Foreign Direct Investment Trends

The release of the 2013 World Investment Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) yesterday revealed that global corporations invested more in emerging markets than Europe, the United States and Japan – the traditional supporters of these markets – for the first time in history. The preface of the report notes that as the international community makes its final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 set at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, the World Investment Report takes on special significance. It also points out that as the United Nations works on strategies for post-2015 development, the information on foreign direct investment (FDI) provided in the report can contribute to the success of these endeavors.

Global FDI for 2012 totaled $1.35 trillion, reflecting an 18 percent decline over the previous year. The report forecasts that 2013 is likely to rise to the region of $1.45 trillion, with $1.6 trillion forecast for 2014 and $1.8 trillion for 2015. In 2012, developing economies outstripped developed economies in absorbing FDI, with developed countries accounting for 42 percent of global flows. Developing economies, most notably the BRICS countries, generated close to one-third of global FDI outflows in 2012.

The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are expected to continue being the top FDI sources among emerging economies. With FDI flows from these five countries rising from $7 billion in the year 2000 to $145 billion in 2012, they account for 10 percent of the world total. China became the world’s third largest investor, after the United States and Japan, in 2012. Among the FDI projects of emerging economies are Brazilian oil company Petrobras’ investment in Angola, and China’s investment in Brazilian agricultural resources.

Millennium Development Goals were adopted by all 189 United Nations member states, as well as 23 international organizations. The eight goals are: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving primary education universally; empowering women and promoting gender equality; reducing child mortality rates; improving maternal health; combating diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership dedicated to development.