May 17, 2011

Globalization: Latin America's Moment- Rising Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America

Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Blog Archive » Rising FDI in Latin America: "The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released its report on foreign direct investment (FDI), with generally good news for Latin America. While 2010 investment worldwide was fairly flat (and fell in developed economies), it soared forty percent in the region – reaching nearly $113 billion. Of the just over a trillion in worldwide flows, Latin America captured a tenth of the total (and over twenty percent of that invested in emerging economies).

These investments were divided between natural resources, domestic market players, and outsourcing venues. Within the region the biggest winners were Brazil (nearly doubling to $48.5 billion), followed by Mexico ($17.7 billion) and Chile ($15.1 billion). And, according to ECLAC, the trend is set to continue – it expects FDI to the region to rise a further fifteen to twenty-five percent in 2011.

A few interesting trends jump out of the data. One is the geographic pull of the Southern Cone. While investment in Mexico and Central America increased, the real upswing occurred in South America—almost four times as much. Brazil and Chile gained the most, but Peru, Bolivia and Argentina all saw large inflows. Only in the Caribbean did FDI actually fall.

You also see quite stark differences in the type of investment. In South America nearly a majority of FDI poured into natural resources—oil, gas, copper, iron, and soya. Further north, a greater share of the money went into manufacturing. There the biggest winners were Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic – all countries with free trade agreements with the United States (NAFTA and CAFTA). These trends, if they continue, suggest long-term structural economic differences may develop between the north and the south of the hemisphere."

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