SANTIAGO, Chile -- In 2012 Latin America and the Caribbean received a record amount of foreign direct investment -- US $173.361 million (6.7 percent more than in 2011) -- according to a report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations (ECLAC).
The report said these figures are explained by the sustained economic growth of the region, high commodity prices and high investment returns associated with the exploitation of natural resources.
The report: Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2012 was presented at the agency's headquarters in Santiago, Chile, on Wednesday.
For 2013, ECLAC forecasts that FDI inflows to the region will range between minus three percent to an increase of seven percent.
"The results of direct foreign investment realize the momentum going through the economy of Latin America. Nevertheless, we see no clear indications of a significant contribution of FDI to the creation of new sectors or activities creating high technology, considering that one of the main challenges facing the region is a change in its productive structure," said executive secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Barcena.
According to the report, FDI is increasingly focusing on the exploitation of natural resources, particularly in South America. The profits of transnational corporations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean (also called income FDI) increased 5.5 times in nine years, from $20.425 million dollars in 2002 to $113.067 million dollars in 2011
FDI flows to the Caribbean increased for the third consecutive year, but still below the peak reached in 2008. The main receiver is Dominican Republic, where revenue grew 59 percent in 2012.
The United States and European Union countries remain the main investors in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Canada and Japan also contributing. However, in 2012 significantly increased the proportion of FDI from the countries of the region (14 percent of total). A high percentage of the investment received cannot be ascribed to any economy by the increasingly common practice of transnational’s channelling their investments abroad through subsidiaries in third countries.
In its report, the ECLAC also performs a first approximation to the effects of FDI on labour markets, based on direct jobs announced by investors for projects to expand production capacity. Trading activities and construction are those that create more jobs (seven seats per million dollars of investment), followed by manufacturing and services (three places). Mining activities (including oil) create a job for every two million.
Direct investment in the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean abroad grew 17 percent between 2011 and 2012, reaching $48.704 million dollars. This figure is 2 percent higher than the high of 2010. In the last decade, most of these investments came from Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, but in 2012 were concentrated almost exclusively in Mexico and Chile.
The report also examines for the first time FDI flows directed to the agricultural sector in Latin America, which plays a strategic role in front of demographics and climate challenges facing the region.
"It is increasingly necessary to take advantage of the region as a destination for FDI to improve the productive countries. This is possible through a greater effort to channel a portion of the income towards building transnational funds for productive development policies, and through initiatives to guide FDI to priority sectors by countries in the region," the report concludes.