For the sixth year in a row, the US has topped the AT Kearney Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index. Although political risks remain front of mind, investors are more bullish regarding the global economy than they have been since 2014.

The consistent attractiveness of the US to foreign investors can be attributed to its upward economic performance, a huge domestic market and new lower corporate tax rate, found the report. “The government’s protectionist rhetoric and actions may also be motivating some companies to invest in the US to maintain market access,” it said.


Among the other leading destinations for FDI, there have been a few shifts. Most notably, Canada rose to second place this year, its highest-ever ranking in the index, while China fell to fifth place, its lowest ranking. Italy and Switzerland entered the top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, thereby relegating India and Singapore.

AT Kearney’s report found that investors are focused on opportunities in Europe. European markets accounted for half of the top 10 and half of the total positions on this year’s index. After losing some ground to emerging markets last year, developed economies reached a record high of 84% of the positions on the 2018 index.

Two-thirds of investors surveyed in the report are more optimistic about the global economic outlook this year than they were last year. Global investors are particularly optimistic about economic opportunities in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia and the Americas, while there were increased doubts regarding the outlook for the Middle East and Africa, which may explain why these regions were not represented on the index this year.

Increased geopolitical tensions topped investors’ list of likely wildcards for the fourth year in a row. Investors viewed the chance of political crisis in emerging markets as higher than last year. For the second year in a row, investors are prioritising governance factors when choosing where to invest.

Some 80% of investors said FDI will become more important for corporate profitability and competitiveness in the next three years. One explanation is that almost 90% of companies are pursuing or considering pursuing localisation strategies, and almost three-quarters of these companies are growing their reliance on FDI as a result of localising, found the report.

The vast majority of investors said that the renegotiation or termination of Nafta would reshape FDI patterns. “While modernizing Nafta’s digital trade provisions would have the most positive net effect on FDI flows to member companies, terminating Nafta would have the least positive net effect on FDI flows. Moreover, 60% of investors report that terminating Nafta would raise their company’s cost of operations, concluded AT Kearney.