01 Feb 2018

Fixed investment outlook: expectations of higher economic growth lift expansion plans

Annabel Bishop

Chief Economist

Engendering actual substantial growth and employment

Figure 1: MNEs top prospective host economies for 2017 and FDI inflows

With South Africa already low on the global FDI (foreign direct investment) radar, global foreign direct investment (FDI) fell 16% y/y in 2017 (to US$1.52tr) as per Unctad’s (United Nations conference on Trade and Development) latest Investment Trends Monitor, in contrast to the lift in global growth and international trade. Indeed, the rise in global economic growth expectations, commodity prices and trade flows (see “Q1 Macro-economic Outlook: 2018 – 2022: Global growth is expected to strengthen somewhat further; for SA’s growth free market policies are key”, 5th January 2018, see website address below) would normally point to a lift in FDI, but geo political risks and policy uncertainty were elevated, including fears of a trade war, concerns over the impact of Brexit, terrorism and uncertainty over US tax reforms. However, 2018 is expected to see global FDI flows reach US$1.8tr as business confidence improves, and South Africa is also expected to see business confidence improve and its growth outlook brightens on the recent reduction in its political uncertainty. FDI in SA averages about 0.5% of GDP, with a net outflow over 2014 to 2016, and similar in 2017 data available, although evidence is beginning to point to the possibility of some inflows for 2018 should investor sentiment improve materially for South Africa.

Figure 2: Forecasts
Figure 3: Factors influencing future global FDI activity (% of executives)

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