Research by IBM’s PLI-Global Location Strategies service reveals that the top 15 inward investment locations in 2006 accounted for 73% of jobs, as opposed to 85% in 2005, which indicates corporations are widening their search for investment opportunities.

Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Vietnam, for example, are among a growing number of emerging market countries selected for new investments.

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According to the study, the increase in investment projects has in part been buoyed by the strength of corporate performance in traditional source economies, such as Japan, the US and western Europe.

The study’s results also reveal a broadening source of investment. For example, India and China, which ranked number one and two respectively in terms of number of jobs created by inward investment, are emerging as important sources of outbound investment as companies in those countries enter into new markets in other geographic regions.

Both countries are now in the top 15 ranking of source countries for outbound investment, which is led by the US, Japan and Germany.

“Taken as a whole, these findings are indicative of global location investment activity in 2006, being predominantly driven by optimism and a search for new market opportunities, rather than by cost reductions,” said Roel Spee, co-global leader at IBM PLI-Global Location Strategies.

Manufacturing jobs created by inward investments totalled 900,000 around the world, while services jobs totalled 330,000, and R&D accounted for 100,000 jobs.

The US was the top ranking destination country for inward investment projects last year, increasing its share of inward investment projects from 7% in 2005 to 11% in 2006.