FDI inflows to Africa rose for the second year running, up 5 per cent to $50 billion, making it one of the few regions that registered year-on-year growth in 2012. FDI outflows from Africa almost tripled in 2012, to $14 billion. TNCs from the South are increasingly active in Africa, building on a trend in recent years of a higher share of FDI flows to the region coming from emerging markets. In terms of FDI stock, Malaysia, South Africa, China and India (in that order) are the largest developing-country investors in Africa.
FDI inflows in 2012 were driven partly by investments in the extractive sector in countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uganda. At the same time, there was an increase in FDI in consumer-oriented manufacturing and services, reflecting demographic changes. Between 2008 and 2012, the share of such industries in the value of greenfield investment projects grew from 7 per cent to 23 per cent of the total.
FDI flows to developing Asia decreased by 7 per cent to $407 billion in 2012. This decline was reflected across all subregions but was most severe in South Asia, where FDI inflows fell by 24 per cent. China and Hong Kong (China) were the second and third largest FDI recipients worldwide, and Singapore, India and Indonesia were also among the top 20. Driven by continued intraregional restructuring, lower-income countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Viet Nam were attractive FDI locations for labour-intensive manufacturing. In West Asia, FDI suffered from a fourth consecutive year of decline. State-owned firms in the Gulf region are taking over delayed projects that were originally planned as joint ventures with foreign firms.
Total outward FDI from the region remained stable at $308 billion, accounting for 22 per cent of global flows (a share similar to that of the European Union). The moderate increase in East and South-East Asia was offset by a 29 per cent decrease in outflows from South Asia. Outflows from China continued to grow, reaching $84 billion in 2012 (a record level), while those from Malaysia and Thailand also increased. In West Asia, Turkey has emerged as a significant investor, with its outward investment growing by 73 per cent in 2012 to a record $4 billion.
FDI to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2012 was $244 billion, maintaining the high level reached in 2011. Significant growth in FDI to South America ($144 billion) was offset by a decline in Central America and the Caribbean ($99 billion). The main factors that preserved South America’s attractiveness to FDI are its wealth in oil, gas and metal minerals and its rapidly expanding middle class. Flows of FDI into natural resources are significant in some South American countries. FDI in manufacturing (e.g. automotive) is increasing in Brazil, driven by new industrial policy measures. Nearshoring to Mexico is on the rise.
Outward FDI from Latin America and the Caribbean decreased moderately in 2012 to $103 billion. Over half of these outflows originate from OFCs. Cross-border acquisitions by Latin American TNCs jumped 74 per cent to $33 billion, half of which was invested in other developing countries.
Inward FDI flows in transition economies fell by 9 per cent in 2012 to $87 billion. In South-East Europe, FDI flows almost halved, mainly due to a decline in investments from traditional European Union investors suffering economic woes at home. In the Commonwealth of Independent States, including the Russian Federation, FDI flows fell by 7 per cent, but foreign investors continue to be attracted by the region’s growing consumer markets and vast natural resources. A large part of FDI in the Russian Federation is due to “round tripping”.
Outward FDI flows from transition economies declined by 24 per cent in 2012 to $55 billion. The Russian Federation continued to dominate outward FDI from the region, accounting for 92 per cent of the total. Although TNCs based in natural-resource economies continued their expansion abroad, the largest acquisitions in 2012 were in the financial industry.
The sharp decline in inflows reversed the FDI recovery during 2010–2011. Inflows fell in 23 of 38 developed economies in 2012. The 32 per cent nosedive was due to a 41 per cent decline in the European Union and a 26 per cent decline in the United States. Inflows to Australia and New Zealand fell by 13 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively. In contrast, inflows to Japan turned positive after two successive years of net divestment. Also, the United Kingdom saw inflows increase. The overall decline was due to weaker growth prospects and policy uncertainty, especially in Europe, and the cooling off of investment in extractive industries. In addition, intracompany transactions – e.g. intracompany loans, which by their nature tend to fluctuate more – had the effect of reducing flows in 2012. While FDI flows are volatile, the level of capital expenditures is relatively stable.
Outflows from developed countries declined by 23 per cent, with the European Union down 40 per cent and the United States down 17 per cent. This was largely due to divestments and the continued “wait and see” attitude of developed-country TNCs. FDI flows from Japan, however, grew by 14 per cent.
FDI flows to structurally weak, vulnerable and small economies rose further by 8 per cent to $60 billion in 2012, with particularly rapid growth in FDI to LDCs and small island developing States (SIDS). The share of the group as a whole rose to 4.4 per cent of global FDI.
FDI inflows to least developed countries (LDCs) grew robustly by 20 per cent and hit a record high of $26 billion, led by strong gains in Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uganda. The concentration of inflows to a few resource-rich LDCs remained high. Financial services continued to attract the largest number of greenfield projects. With greenfield investments from developed countries shrinking almost by half, nearly 60 per cent of greenfield investment in LDCs was from developing economies, led by India.
FDI to landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) reached $35 billion, a new high. The “Silk Road” economies of Central Asia attracted about 54 per cent of LLDC FDI inflows. Developing economies became the largest investors in LLDCs, with particular interest by TNCs from West Asia and the Republic of Korea; the latter was the largest single investor in LLDCs last year.
FDI flows into small island developing States (SIDS) continued to recover for the second consecutive year, increasing by 10 per cent to $6.2 billion, with two natural-resources-rich countries – Papua New Guinea, and Trinidad and Tobago – explaining much of the rise.