Even as the editor of it, I have to admit that The fDi Report 2013, our fDi Intelligence division’s annual report on global greenfield investment trends, is not a pleasant read. Not because it is so stats-heavy (what kind of FDI nerd doesn’t enjoy a nice graph?), but because so many of the numbers are negative. Journalists tend to have a perverse love of bad news, but in reading the first draft of the report I found myself hoping I would see more plus signs before the percentage figures contrasting 2012 with 2011 on our attractive but depressing maps.

The report, published in April, certainly does not bring happy tidings for economic developers, many of whom will find that their tough jobs are about to get tougher.


Among the highlights (lowlights, rather) of the report are: 2012 saw the second biggest decline in greenfield FDI worldwide since the start of the recession; all world regions experienced a decline, even hard-charging Asia-Pacific and the usually buoyant North America; and the vaunted BRICs are not immune to the woes, with, as the executive summary of the report pithily puts it, “Brazil struggling to regain growth, Russia muddling along, and growth levels in China and India falling.” Good times.

I wish I could say that 2013’s prospects are brighter but, alas, we are expecting a sharp decline in FDI flows this year, in the range of 20%, with all world regions impacted. The FDI market is not likely to see growth again until 2014.

What should desperate economic developers do in the meantime? For a start, get on a plane to the Middle East. While inward investment into the region fell in 2012, in line with global trends, it was the only region to increase its volume of outbound FDI. Last year there was a near-16% increase in projects originating from companies in the Middle East, and 27% from the United Arab Emirates. Most of these Middle Eastern companies make their investments closer to home, in neighbouring markets, but they are bound to start venturing further afield, so it might be worth creating ties with them now.

And because in the face of crisis it always helps to be armed with information, I recommend a read of the full report, to help get a full sense of how the ground lies in greenfield investment at the moment. Visit www.fDiIntelligence.com/fDireport, download a copy; and, as they say, read it and weep.

Courtney Fingar is the editor of fDi Magazine. E-mail: courtney.fingar@ft.com