Foreign direct investment in the Caribbean declined 17 percent to $5.97 billion last year.
Meanwhile, total FDI inflows of $179.1 billion into Latin America and the Caribbean in 2015 represented a decline of 9.1 percent and the lowest level since 2010, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, known as ECLAC, announced.
Investments were particularly low in sectors linked to natural resources, mainly mining and hydrocarbons, and also resulted from the general deceleration of economic growth, especially in Brazil, the United Nations organization said in its annual report “Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2016.”
For 2016, ECLAC estimates that FDI will remain below the levels reached in recent years and could decline as much as 8 percent, the Commission said.
“In the current configuration of the global economy, foreign direct investment is destined to play a relevant role in national and regional development processes. With proactive and integrated policies, countries can take advantage of these flows to diversify their economies, boost innovation and the incorporation of technology, and respond to the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC executive secretary.
The decline seen in 2015 in Latin America and the Caribbean contrasts with the dynamism observed at a global level, the document noted. Last year, global FDI flows expanded 36 percent, reaching an estimated total of $1.7 trillion, driven by an intense wave of transnational mergers and acquisitions focused on developed countries and the United States in particular.
Despite the overall decline in the region, country figures varied. In Brazil, FDI shrank 23 percent to $75.1 billion, although it continued to be the top recipient of these flows in the region. In Mexico, the second largest recipient, inflows increased by 18 percent, reaching $30.3 billion, one of the highest levels in seven years. The manufacturing sector, mainly the automotive industry, and telecommunications received the biggest investments in that country.
However, the decline in mineral prices negatively affected FDI income in Chile and Colombia, which fell 8 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
In terms of medium and long-term trends, the study highlights important changes in the projects announced between 2005 and 2015: the relevance of extractive sectors has declined, the automotive sector has shown a special dynamism, and the importance of telecommunications, renewable energy and retail commerce has increased.
“Investments in renewable energy and other environmental projects are the basis of ECLAC’s proposal for boosting the region’s development with an environmental ‘big push,’ to move towards a pattern of low-carbon production, energy and consumption,” Ms. Bárcena said.
In 2015, the United States was once again the main investor in the region with 25.9 percent of all FDI, followed by the Netherlands (15 percent) and Spain (11.8 percent). At the same time, FDI outflows from the region declined substantially to $47.362 billion in 2015, down 15 percent from the year before.
The trend reflects the moderation of the expansion of companies known as “translatinas” that began between 2007 and 2012. Based on these companies’ stock of investments, Brazil and Mexico are the countries with the most capital invested outside their borders. However, in 2015 Chile was the biggest investor abroad.