It is time for the great European seduction. The businesses of Europe are not getting any attention at home and now want to play away. They have been told continually about the exciting opportunities in far-flung lands and want a slice of the action. For investment promotion agencies from cities, regions and countries outside of Europe, this is the moment to turn on the charm and score for their economy.
Europe is the world’s largest market and continues to be a major draw for FDI. However, European companies are increasingly seeking their fortunes outside of Europe. They have a lot to give in terms of technology, branding expertise and supply-chain smarts. They also have some pretty good products and services that the world wants.
One example is the UK’s Arcadia Group, a leading retailer with brands such as Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, which plans to be a global player within the next three years, operating in all the big markets. This is just one of many such businesses serious about fast global growth. Figures from fDi Markets show that since 2003, FDI projects from Europe to the rest of the world have more than doubled as have the number of companies investing out of Europe. Last year was the strongest for outward FDI so far, with a total of 2618 European companies generating 4225 FDI projects for the rest of the world.
It is not just FDI out of Europe, but also movement within Europe, from the slowdowns to the hot spots. The investment agency for London, for example, has been able to attract nearly 200 Spanish companies to the city over the past year or so.
The message is for investment promotion agencies outside (and inside) Europe to put more boots on the ground and get close to European businesses. Engage with them, listen to their business dreams, and demonstrate ways of adding to their top and bottom lines. Europe is definitely up for some overseas adventures.
Douglas Clark is director of Location Connections, a site selection and FDI consultancy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org