Global FDI inflows soared in 2006 to reach $1,306 billion – a growth of 38%. This marked the third consecutive year of growth, and approached the record level of $1,411 billion reached in 2000. It reflected strong economic performance in many parts of the world. Inflows increased in all three groups of economies: developed countries, developing countries and the transition economies of South-East Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).Read More
World Investment Report 2007
Transnational Corporations, Extractive Industries and Development
Foreign direct investment represents the largest share of external capital flows to developing countries. Just as transnational corporations can bring with them new technology, management know-how and improved market access, foreign direct investment can be a significant force for development. In 2006, developing countries attracted $380 billion in foreign direct investment — more than ever before. While two thirds of these flows went to rapidly growing markets in Asia, virtually all developing regions participated in the increase. Investments rose particularly fast in many countries that are richly endowed with natural resources.
As highlighted in this year’s World Investment Report, recent years have seen a revival of foreign direct investment in extractive industries, reflecting higher commodity prices. This commodity boom, partly fuelled by rising Asian demand for various natural resources, should open a window of opportunity for mineral-rich countries to accelerate their development. This is especially important as we reach the midpoint in our efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
The World Investment Report 2007 focuses on the role of transnational corporations in extractive industries, and documents their presence in many of the world’s poorest economies. Transnational corporations can bring in the finance and management skills these economies need to transform their resources into products that can be used locally or exported. The rise of new transnational corporations from the South, not least Asia, has given mineral-rich countries a wider spectrum of potential sources of investment.
But as we know, the extraction of natural resources involves considerable economic, environmental and social challenges. The objective is to ensure it is done in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner possible, while at the same time contributing to poverty alleviation and accelerated development. For that, we need institutional and regulatory frameworks promoted by accountable Governments, as well as responsible investors. All relevant stakeholders need to join forces in a concerted effort. This year’s World Investment Report offers useful insights to that end.
Secretary-General of the UNCTAD
Increased cross-border M&A activity supports the current rise in global FDI. Such transactions rose significantly in 2006, both in value (by 23%, to reach $880 billion) and in number (by 14% to 6,974), approaching the previous M&A peak in 2000. This growth was driven by higher stock market valuations, rising corporate profits and favourable financing conditions. In contrast with the M&A boom of the late 1990s, this time transactions have been predominantly financed by cash and debt, rather than through an exchange of shares. As many as 172 mega deals (i.e. deals worth over $1 billion) were recorded in 2006, accounting for about two thirds of the total value of cross-border M&AsRead More
The production of goods and services by TNCs outside their home countries grew more rapidly in 2006 than in the previous year. The sales, value added and exports of some 78,000 TNCs and their 780,000 foreign affiliates are estimated to have increased by 18%, 16% and 12% respectively. They accounted for the equivalent of 10% of world GDP and one third of world exports. China continued to host the largest number of foreign affiliates in the world, while the growth rate of the number of TNCs from developing countries and transition economies over the past 15 years has exceeded that of TNCs from developed countries.Read More
While the universe of TNCs is dominated by developed-country firms, the picture is changing. The number of firms from developing economies in the list of the world’s 100 largest non-financial TNCs increased from five in 2004 to seven in 2005 (the most recent year for which data are available), in line with the rise of TNCs from the South. Rankings in the list of the world’s top 100 TNCs have remained relatively stable, with General Electric, Vodafone and General Motors having the largest foreign assets. Although the foreign assets of the top 100 TNCs have remained virtually unchanged since 2004, their foreign sales and employment increased by about 10%.Read More
The geographical pattern of FDI is showing signs of change, with new countries emerging as significant host and home economies. The rise of FDI from developing and transition economies and the growth of South-South FDI are important recent trends. Changes are taking place in the pattern of bilateral flows of FDI as well. In 2005, the largest bilateral outward FDI stock was that of the United Kingdom in the United States – at $282 billion; 20 years earlier, it was the reverse. Whereas bilateral links between selected economies, such as those between the United States on the one hand and Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on the other, dominated the global picture of bilateral FDI relationships in 1985, today, the situation is considerably more multifaceted, reflecting the involvementRead More
Governments continue to adopt measures to facilitate FDI. In 2006, 147 policy changes making host-country environments more favourable to FDI were observed. Most of them (74%) were introduced by developing countries. They included in particular measures aimed at lowering corporate income taxes (as in Egypt, Ghana and Singapore) and expanding promotional efforts (as in Brazil and India). Further liberalization of specific industries is under way in various countries, such as that relating to professional services (Italy), telecommunications (Botswana and Cape Verde), banking (the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mali) and energy (Albania and Bulgaria).Read More
At $36 billion in 2006, FDI inflows in Africa were twice their 2004 level. This was due to increased interest in natural resources, improved prospects for corporate profits and a more favourable business climate. The value of cross-border M&A sales reached a record $18 billion, half of which represented purchases by TNCs from developing Asia. Greenfield projects and investments in expansion also grew significantly. Despite this increase, Africa’s share in global FDI fell to 2.7% in 2006, compared with 3.1% in 2005, much lower than that of other developing regions. FDI outflows from Africa also reached a record $8 billion in 2006, up from $2 billion in 2005.Read More
FDI inflows to South, East and South-East Asia maintained their upward trend in 2006, rising by about 19% to reach a new high of $200 billion. At the subregional level, South and South-East Asia saw a sustained increase in flows, while their growth in East Asia was slower. However, FDI in the latter subregion is shifting towards more knowledgeintensive and high value-added activities. China and Hong Kong (China) retained their positions as the largest FDI recipients in the region, followed by Singapore and India. Inflows to China fell in 2006 for the first time in seven years. The modest decline (by 4% to $69 billion) was due mainly to reduced investments in financial services. Hong Kong (China) attracted $43 billion in FDI, Singapore $24 billion (a new high), and India $17 billion (an amount equivalent to the combined inflows to that country of the preceding three years)Read More
In 2006, FDI inflows to the 14 economies of West Asia rose by 44%, to an unprecedented $60 billion. Privatization of various services progressed in 2006, and there was an improvement in the general business climate. The region’s strong economic growth has encouraged investment, and high oil prices have been attracting increasing amounts of FDI in oil and gas and in related manufacturing industries.Read More
FDI flows to Latin America and the Caribbean increased by 11%, to $84 billion. If the offshore financial centres are excluded, however, they reached $70 billion in 2006, which was the same level as in 2005. This is in sharp contrast to the soaring FDI outflows, which jumped by 125% to $43 billion (or $49 billion if offshore financial centres are included). Brazil and Mexico remained the leading recipients (with about $19 billion each), followed by Chile, the British Virgin Island and Colombia. The stagnation of FDI inflows in the region (excluding the offshore financial centres) hides disparities among different countries: in South America, most of the countries registered strongly positive growth in FDI flows, but this was offset by a significant decline in Colombia and Venezuela. Two features characterized the region’s FDI inflows: greenfield investments became more important than cross-border M&As, and reinvested earnings became an increasingly important component (the largest component in South America alone).Read More
FDI inflows into South-East Europe and the CIS grew by 68%, to $69 billion – a significant leap from the inflows of the two previous years. The top five recipient countries (the Russian Federation, Romania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Bulgaria in that order) accounted for 82% of the total inflows. Those to the Russian Federation almost doubled to $28.7 billion, while those to Romania and Bulgaria grew significantly, in anticipation of their accession to the EU on 1 January 2007 and due to a series of privatization deals. FDI outflows from the region increased for the fifth consecutive year, to reach $18.7 billion. Virtually all of this outward FDI reflected the expansion abroad of Russian TNCs, especially some large resource-based firms seeking to become global players and some banks expanding into other CIS countries.Read More
FDI inflows to developed countries surged to $857 billion – 45% higher than in the previous year – reflecting another rise in cross-border M&As. In contrast to the upward trend of the previous FDI cycle at the end of the past decade, the current increase was widespread, across all the developed regions. FDI inflows to the United States rebounded strongly to $175 billion in 2006, with record flows in the chemical industry, while a wave of cross-border M&As in the mining sector caused Canadian inflows to double, to a record of $69 billion. Inward FDI in the 25 EU countries grew by 9%, to reach $531 billion. Declines in FDI flows to Ireland, Spain and the United Kingdom were more than compensated for by increases in Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg, while inflows in the 10 new EU members amounted to $39 billion – their highest level so far. Due to some large sell-offs of foreign affiliates to Japanese companies, FDI inflows to Japan turned negative for the first time since 1989 (-$6.5 billion). The share of foreign investment from developing countries in the total value of cross-border M&A sales was 9% in 2006 compared to 7% 2005, largely as a result of several mega deals.Read More
The upward trend in FDI is expected to continue in 2007 and beyond – albeit at a somewhat slower rate than in 2006. This would be in line with global economic growth, which should remain above its longer term trend, although it might slow down moderately. This forecast is confirmed by the rise in global cross-border M&As to $581 billion in the first half of 2007 – a 54% increase over the corresponding period of 2006 – and by the results of various surveys.Read More
The involvement of TNCs in extractive industries has had a chequered history. In the early twentieth century, these industries accounted for the largest share of FDI, reflecting the international expansion of firms from the colonial powers. With a growing number of former colonies gaining independence after the Second World War, and the creation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the dominance of these TNCs declined, as did the share of extractive industries in global FDI. From the mid-1970s, in particular, the share of oil, gas and metal mining in world FDI fell steadily as other sectors grew much faster. However, as a result of rising mineral prices, the share of extractive industries in global FDI has recently increased, although it is still much lower than those of services and manufacturing. It is therefore an opportune time for the WIR07 to revisit the role of TNCs in extractive industries and their impact on development.Read More
Developed countries still attract the bulk of FDI in extractive industries, partly explained by significant cross-border M&A activity. However, their share in global inward FDI in these industries fell from about 90% in 1990 to 70% in 2005. The share of developing and transition economies as destinations for TNC investments in extractive industries has increased over the past two decades. Between 1990 and 2000, their estimated combined stock of inward FDI in those industries more than doubled, and between 2000 and 2005, it increased again by half. Following new mineral discoveries, a number of new FDI recipients have emerged, including LDCs such as Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Mali. During this period, the Russian Federation and other CIS members also became important destinations for FDI in extractive industries.Read More
The relative importance of TNCs in the production of metallic minerals and of oil and gas varies considerably. In metal mining, 15 of the 25 leading companies in 2005, ranked by their share in the value of world production, were headquartered in developed countries. Eight others were from developing countries and the two remaining were from the Russian Federation. The top three were BHP Billiton (Australia), Rio Tinto (United Kingdom) and CVRD (Brazil). Three State-owned companies also featured on the list: Codelco (Chile), Alrosa (Russian Federation) and KGHM Polska Miedz (Poland). Following CVRD’s acquisition of Inco (Canada), it was estimated to have become the largest metallic mineral producer in the world in 2006 – the first time that a Latin Americabased company will have occupied that position. The level of internationalization of these leading companies varies greatly. In 2005, Rio Tinto had mining operations in the largest number (10) of host countries, followed by Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti and Glencore International. In contrast, large producers like Codelco, CVRD and Debswana (Botswana) had no overseas mining production.Read More
The drivers and determinants of investments by extractive-industry TNCs differ between activities, industries and companies. Natural-resourceseeking motives dominate FDI and other forms of TNC involvement in upstream (exploration and extraction) activities. A TNC might seek resources to meet its own needs for its downstream refining or manufacturing activities, to sell the minerals directly in host, home or international markets, or to secure the strategic requirements of its home country (as formulated by the country’s government) for energy or other minerals. The latter has been a major driver of the recent overseas expansion of State-owned TNCs from Asia, for instance.Read More
Mineral endowments provide opportunities for economic development and poverty alleviation in the countries where they are located. Indeed, some of today’s developed countries as well as a number of developing countries have successfully leveraged their mineral resources for accelerating their development process. In other cases, however, the impact of extractive activities has been and remains disappointing.Read More
The economic challenge for a host country is threefold: how to add value through extractive activities, how to capture that value locally, and how to make the best use of the revenues generated. In terms of adding value, the benefits of TNC involvement vary by country. Developing countries that possess sufficient financial resources, engineering expertise and technically competent State-owned oil companies have successfully developed their own capabilities to exploit their natural resources. West Asia is a typical example, where much of the oil and gas extraction is undertaken with known technology and little participation by foreign companies. In many other countries that lack the finance and ability to manage capital-intensive, high-risk and sometimes technologically challenging projects, TNC participation has helped boost their output and exports of minerals.Read More
Extractive activities, regardless of who undertakes them, involve environmental costs. TNCs can play both a negative and a positive role in this context. On the one hand, they may add to environmental degradation in a host country simply by participating in resource extraction where there would otherwise be none. On the other hand, they may reduce adverse environmental consequences by using more advanced technologies in production, and by applying and diffusing higher standards of environmental management than domestic companies, where the latter – including artisanal and small-scale mining – exist. However, the net environmental impact of TNC activities is determined to a significant extent by a host-country’s environmental regulations and its institutional capacity to implement them. In recent years, there has been growing environmental awareness among large, established TNCs in both metal mining and oil and gas extraction. While accidents and bad practices undoubtedly still occur, their environmental practices have generally improved over the past decade or so, although these vary by company. For example, TNCs originating from home countries where environmental legislation is at a nascent stage may be relatively less well equipped to manage the environmental consequences of their overseas projects than those from countries with more advanced environmental legislation and standards.Read More
The quality of government policies and institutions is a determining factor for ensuring sustainable development gains from resource extraction, with or without TNC involvement. The management of a mineral-based economy is complex, and requires a well-developed governance system and well-considered national development objectives. In some mineral-rich developing countries, however, government policy-making may be aimed at shortterm gains rather than long-term development objectives. Furthermore, the distribution and use of a host country’s share of mineral revenues may be determined with little attention to development considerations. In some cases, easy access to revenues from mineral resources can make governments less accountable to their populations, and more inclined to preserve and extend the interests of a small governing elite.Read More
The way foreign involvement in extractive industries is governed has changed over time and still varies considerably by country. Approaches range from total prohibition of foreign investment in resource extraction (as in the case of oil in Mexico and Saudi Arabia) to almost complete reliance on TNCs (as in the case of metal mining in Ghana and Mali, or oil and gas extraction in Argentina and Peru). Various national laws, regulations and contracts govern TNC involvement. In addition, many countries have entered into international investment agreements (IIAs) of relevance to the operations and impacts of extractive-industry TNCsRead More
In order to derive maximum economic gains from TNC involvement while keeping potential environmental and social costs to a minimum, concerted action by all relevant stakeholders is required, based on a consensus around coherent policies. A number of recommendations to host country governments, home-country governments, the international community, civil society and TNCs emerge from the analysis in WIR07.Read More
The international community can also help promote greater development gains from resource extraction. International organizations can facilitate learning opportunities from studying and comparing the positive and negative experiences of different mineral-rich countries. Initiatives at the regional level might be useful. For example, it is worth exploring the scope for regional geological surveys and for establishing regional mining schools in Africa. In addition, the international community can be instrumental in the development of standards and guidelines and in promoting the use and adoption of existing tools to help ensure a more developmentfriendly outcome of TNC activities in mineral-rich countries, notably in weakly governed or authoritarian States. In very serious instances, the international community may have to explore sanctions as a tool for protecting human rights.Read More