A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


The first joint activity with new Vi member, Morocco’s Université Mohammed V-Souissi, gathered 20 participants from academia, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Moroccan Investment Development Agency, and the Chamber of Commerce, for a videoconference presentation of UNCTAD's latest World Investment Report (WIR) September 24.

Following introductory remarks by the counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Morocco, Mounir Benhammou, WIR co-author, UNCTAD’s Nicole Moussa, presented its major findings.
In a framework characterized by the continuing effects of the global financial and economic crisis and the intensification of the Euro zone crisis, the WIR reports a rise of 16 percent in global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows for 2011.

"Even though global FDI flows did not reach the record level achieved in 2007, they surpassed the average 2005–2007 pre-crisis level for the first time, reaching a total of $1.5 trillion," Moussa said.

Inflows increased across all major economic groupings, with economies in transition recording the highest growth rate (26 per cent), followed by developed countries (21 percent) and developing economies (11 percent). While developing and transition economies registered a slight decrease in their participation, they continued to account for nearly half of global FDI in 2011, and their inflows reached a new record high ($777 billion).

On a regional basis, rising FDI to developing countries was driven by a 10 per cent increase in Asia and a 16 per cent increase in Latin America and the Caribbean. Flows to Africa, in contrast, continued their downward trend for a third consecutive year, but the decline was marginal in 2011.

"This result reflects a two-side story," Moussa said, explaining that while flows to North Africa were drastically reduced due to political unrest, flows to Sub-Saharan Africa reached $35 billion, a record high. At a country level, net inflows to Egypt and Libya, which had been major recipients of FDI, came to a halt and even turned negative owing to political instability, while FDI inflows to Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco increased.

"Regarding FDI prospects, uncertainty about the course of economic events is still very high," Moussa said. UNCTAD’s projections for the medium term based on macroeconomic fundamentals continue to show FDI flows increasing at a moderate but steady pace, reaching $1.8 trillion and $1.9 trillion in 2013 and 2014, respectively, barring any macroeconomic shock.
On the investment policy front, Moussa said that "while many countries continued to liberalize investment in various industries to stimulate growth, there is an increasing number of countries where new regulatory measures continued to be introduced”. Such measures included tightening of selection procedures and admission policies in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and banking, for example, increased regulation in extractive industries (e.g. through nationalization and divestment requirements) and a more critical approach toward FDI outflows.
"There are specific challenges ahead at a national and international level," Moussa said.
At the national level, it is key to integrate investment policy into a development strategy so that investment contributes to the country's development goals. At the international level, it is necessary to strengthen the development dimension of international investment agreements and balance the rights and obligations of States and investors. 
Against this background, this year’s World Investment Report unveils the UNCTAD Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development.
"Following its principles will help developing economies adopt a new generation of investment contracts aimed at ensuring both economic growth and sustainable development," Benhammou pointed out. Mobilizing investment for sustainable development is essential in this era of persistent crises and pressing challenges.