Since January 2003, the transportation sector has accounted for 3.2% of global crossborder investments. fDi Intelligence tracked 2183 projects in the sector, which, overall, generated an estimated $279bn-worth of capital investment and created more than 520,000 new jobs.

The transportation sector was the fourth most valuable in terms of capital investment from January 2003 to September 2008. The sector accounted for 5% of total global capital investment.

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The latest figures released show that 2008 is set to be a bumper year in terms of project numbers. Between January and September 2007, project numbers in the transportation sector stood at 382, whereas figures for the same period in 2008 were 467, a 22% year-on-year rise.

BY THE NUMBERS

In the five-year period from 2003 to 2007, crossborder investment in the transportation sector experienced an average annual growth of more than 20% in total projects, from 176 projects in 2003 to 467 projects in 2008 to date. However, as the number of projects increased, the actual size of each project declined year-on-year. The average project in 2003 was worth an estimated $312m and created 430 jobs, whereas the average project in 2008 was worth an estimated $83m, down 73%, and created about 149 jobs for each project, a decline of almost two-thirds.

The transportation sector is the third fastest-growing area of crossborder investment projects after alternative energy and real estate, when comparing the period from January to September 2007 to the same period in 2003. Project numbers rose from 128 between January and September 2003 to 467 FDI projects in 2008 to date – a 265% increase.

Of the 2183 projects recorded in the sector since 2003, US companies account for 22% of total projects, followed by German companies with 17%. These two countries account for more than one-third of total projects created. Unsurprisingly, they also provided the top investors in this sector, with Germany’s Deutsche Post leading the pack, followed by US companies Federal Express and United Parcel Service.

According to data released by fDi Intelligence, transportation projects are relatively evenly distributed, with no predominant leader. The top 10 destinations account for 50% of total projects in this sector, in comparison to some other sectors where the top one or two destinations can account for this percentage. China accounted for 14% of total projects in this sector since January 2003, followed by the US with 10% and India with 8%. The primary motive driving crossborder investments in transportation is the domestic market growth potential, with 34% of all companies stating this reason. Other motives include proximity to markets or customers (25%) and the infrastructure of the destination country (16%).

Dr Henry Loewendahl is product director for fDi Intelligence.

E-mail: henry.loewendahl@ft.com