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foreign direct investment

Let the lights shine, hopefully for 24 hours a day (as needed)

Antoine Jaoude's picture

Growing up in war-torn Beirut, I experienced the Lebanese Civil War from a childlike perspective. I was in middle school at the time when a power outage lingered for months on end. Reviewing textbooks and doing homework at night was no easy task. The flickers of candlelight reflecting on the glossy pages of my textbook made reading very laborious—not to mention how it compromised my safety and shrank my attention span. I was 12 years old at the time. Today, I am 34. It has been 23 years since the war ended and power shortage in Lebanon remains.  
 
In the aftermath of the civil war, there was a national consensus to privatize and decentralize the power sector in Lebanon. Decentralization would shift control from the ministerial level to distinct municipalities across the country. Privatization in particular would help the power grid expand to meet the growing demands of population increase. Both moves would involve inflows of foreign direct investment, and open up competition, and create more jobs. However, political disagreements erupted around the intricacies of privatization policies and decrees and any further attempt to privatize or decentralize has floundered.
 
Today, Electricite du Liban (EDL), a state-owned enterprise run by the Ministry of Energy and Water controls 90 percent of power generators, transmission, and distribution services in the country. A surge of demand after the civil war has pushed EDL to further expand the power grid.
 

“When the Tide Goes Out, You See Who’s Naked”

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture

Said Martin Sandbu, the FT economics writer that moderated the FT-MIGA Summit, Managing Global Political Risk, last week in London.   
 
This is the fifth year that MIGA, the political risk insurance and credit enhancement arm of the World Bank, co-hosted the event to launch its World Investment and Political Risk report.  Undoubtedly, these have been heady years and most participants agreed that, while it is still strong, political risk has waned since the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring. This sentiment dovetails with the findings of the report, which show that macroeconomic stability won by just a hair over political risk as the factor that international investors fear most.
 
Also in line with these findings, the World Bank’s Andrew Burns cautioned that the world will soon be grappling with the next group of challenges brought about by the tide. What tide? Here, Sandbu meant the significant investment that has flowed to developing countries in search of yield over the past few years, quantitative easing that has kept economies afloat, and high commodity prices. All of these factors are now in flux.
 “When the Tide Goes Out, You See Who’s Naked
And now, the (potential) nudity. That is, as investment to emerging markets tapers, macreconomic tools are used less bluntly, and commodity prices normalize, will countries have laid enough strong economic foundations to weather the inevitable changes that will occur? And as this MIGA-sponsored conference deals with political risk, how will economic changes affect the destiny of leaders and, resultantly, citizens?
 
Tina Fordham of Citi Research emphasized that the structural determinants of political risk are still very present. She noted little improvement in unemployment and an increase in vox populi risk. By this she meant shifting and more volatile public opinion around the world—amplified by social media—has recently resulted in a proliferation of mass protests.  Panelists discussed several other risk factors, including increasing polarization in politics, pressure on central banks to keep the economic show on the road, reduced investment in infrastructure, and a reversal in living standards in some hard-hit countries.
 

Smartly Tapping Global Markets: A Driver for the Rise of the South

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture

We’ve become accustomed to talk about the rise of the “global South” in business and economic circles—as these past several years have seen developing countries (mostly BRICs, but also others) surging economically while the global North has retrenched.  I’ve discussed in this blog space how outbound investment from developing countries is one indicator that we can point to confirm this trend.

The UN Development Program (UNDP) recently released its annual Human Development Report that takes as its theme the rise of the global South. I attended the Washington launch of the
report which was held, for the first time, at the World Bank. World Bank chief economist Kaushik Basu noted during the event it’s a welcome move. The World Bank and UNDP have much information, tactics, resources, and energy to share.

Investing in Infrastructure in Africa: Conundrum and Opportunity

Esohe Denise Odaro's picture

Last week, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its semi-annual report on FDI flows, which reflected generally dismal results: global FDI declined by 8 percent, with a 5 percent decrease for the developing world in particular. Investing in Infrastructure in AfricaI found it interesting that South Africa’s significant decline in FDI seemed to catch a good deal of media interest. Yes, the continent’s darling and the usually one of the highest recipients of FDI saw a drastic drop (by 43%); admittedly this deserves more than a glance. But I wonder why Finland and Ireland’s numbers, at 96.2 and 42.8 percent respectively, didn’t make much news. South Asia’s inflows also fell by 40 percent as a result of declines across nearly all countries in the subcontinent. In India, inward FDI fell from US$18 billion to US$10 billion. Why South Africa? In my opinion, the flow of investment to sub-Saharan Africa is often reported as a sign that the doors of the last frontiers are being approached.

Managing Risk and Keeping Focused in Turbulent Times

Mallory Saleson's picture

It’s been almost a year since Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire, sparking a wave of protests in his country and ensuing events that led to what we now refer to as the “Arab Spring”. Today, these events were remembered, and the future of the region debated, during a seminar MIGA co-hosted with the Financial Times in London on Managing Global Political Risk: Old Risks, New Moment.

Tunisia’s Minister of Finance Jalloul Ayed spoke passionately, eloquently, and with tremendous insight about the challenges and opportunities facing his country, noting many look to Tunisia as setting the pace and showing the way. “So far so good”, he noted, adding “democracy is now hopefully part of our political tradition.” But there is a daunting road ahead, dealing with the priorities, creating jobs for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth, encouraging much-needed investment. His biggest concern? “We cannot lose focus; we have to reform and get the job done.”

Pop the Champagne: Developing-Country Outbound Investment Hits Record High

Cara Santos Pianesi's picture

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has just issued its Global Investment Trends Monitor that looks at outward-bound foreign direct investment (FDI). Here’s the lead: The share of developing and transition-country FDI in global outflows increased to 28 percent in 2010, up from 15 percent in 2007, the year prior to the global financial crisis. These are historic levels, both in absolute terms and as a share of the global total of outbound FDI.

Another important snippet from UNCTAD is that a full 70 percent of developing and transition-country outward investment is destined toward other developing and transition countries—this is also known as “South-South” investment. The Monitor attributes this trend to the stronger recovery and economic condition is those destinations.

For Love of Jobs or Money?

Michael Strauss's picture

As part of the launch of the World Bank’s World Development Report, a distinguished panel (including MIGA’s own Edith Quintrell) convened at IFC to discuss the topic of Private Sector Growth and Job Creation. Jyrki Koskelo chaired the panel and asked for a lively and frank discussion. He got more than he bargained for.

In addition to Ms. Quintrell and Mr. Koskelo, the panel included:

  • Arnold Ekpe, CEO of Eco
  • Rosalind Kainyah, Vice President, External Affairs, Tullow Oil
  • Justin Lin, senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank
  • Jay Naidoo, World Development Report Advisory Council Member, and, most provocatively
  • Mohamed Ibrahim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

 

You Say You Want a Revolution...

Hoda Atia Moustafa's picture

As I return from a week-long mission to Lebanon and Jordan, where I took part in a workshop to teach government agencies about MIGA's mission and products and met potential clients to discuss prospective collaboration, I am struck at how much unchartered territory there is for us in this ever-changing and turbulent region. 

During the 18 days of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25, I was glued to the news media -- and to Facebook, which proved to be a vital source of information quicker than any news agency -- to try to get news of what was happening and ensure that my family and friends back in Egypt stayed safe.

Ethiopia: Uptick in Investor Interest

Michael Durr's picture

Here at MIGA, I’m responsible for fielding initial investor inquiries about our political risk guarantees, which is an interesting vantage point from which to note trends. Last year I blogged about the rising interest of foreign investors in Sierra Leone. Talking with investors around the world interested in emerging markets and examining MIGA’s Preliminary Application (PA) data, I see a similar trend emerging in Ethiopia. Investor interest has grown dramatically.

MIGA was created to promote foreign direct investment into developing countries by mitigating political risk. The agency offers insurance to private investors against

How Risky, Really, Is the Arab World for Investors?

Paul Barbour's picture

 

 

Recent events surrounding the Dubai World debt standstill raise broader questions about the political risks of investing in the Arab World. The good news is that growth and FDI have risen markedly in recent years; yet, risks undoubtedly remain. I researched the issue in depth for a new Perspectives from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) that highlights the diversity of risks within the Arab World.

 

The Arab World, like other developing regions, provides both potential risks and rewards for international investors. The most important message from the Perspectives piece, though, is that risks vary significantly by country, by sector, and by project. As a result, it’s crucial not to take a one-size-fits-all approach to investing in the region.

 

Case in point: The Arab World is perceived as being prone to war and civil disturbance. Yet available data from the Berne Union shows no claims for war and civil disturbance in Arab countries. Here we see a considerable gap between perceptions and reality.

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