I was going to write a completely different editorial than what this will turn out to be.
Much of 2010 was, for me, dominated by interest in the eastern half of Europe, attending conferences – and, it must be admitted, eating an awful lot of rosolje, zurek and pirozhki – in my personal favourites Estonia, Poland and Ukraine.
Against this backdrop and ahead of Poland’s upcoming presidency of the EU, I had been mulling the various approaches to FDI in this region.
But then the political uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt cast attention on that region instead. Discussions on the editorial team here turned to how investment promotion agencies react, and furthermore how they should react, when there is chaos in their countries that threatens to disrupt the business environment or even ruin the FDI appeal altogether.
A colleague suggested it would make a good topic for this column. He was right – except I had already been intent on my previously planned theme, which no longer seemed as timely or relevant. It is a lesson, if nothing else, in the virtue of procrastination, especially in journalism. Events can change global focus so rapidly, and while eyes are on one market or region something can blow up in another.
This is one of the challenges of running a global magazine such as fDi. There is a lot of ground to cover – the whole world in fact – and equal attention in theory should be given to FDI destinations of all types and in all corners. Globally minded people, and companies, tend to be comfortable anywhere and make a point to be open to opportunities in all parts of the world. But we all have our biases; even those who will happily go anywhere find themselves drawn to certain places.
Affinity for and comfort in a particular part of the world affects our perceptions of both opportunity (overestimating it) and risk (underestimating it). Foreign companies with long histories in the north African markets, for example, will not be put off the region easily despite the current turmoil, and many are comfortable with pressing ahead into even the dicier regional markets such as Libya and Sudan.
As for me, while fDiwill continue to monitor the investment situation in north Africa, and elsewhere, come March I will be back in Ukraine and also checking out the as-yet-unexplored Belarus – I will tell you all about it in a future column perhaps, unless unforeseen events get in the way.
Courtney Fingar is the editor of fDi Magazine