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Serbia storms to top of the list of countries attracting FDI

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Serbia tops the Greenfield FDI Performance Index 2019. The south-east European country is ranked number one in the annual study by fDi Intelligence, a Financial Times data division of which fDi Magazine is also a part, which looked at inbound greenfield investment in 2018 relative to the size of each country’s economy.

Serbia scores 11.92 in the index, closely followed by Montenegro (11.49) in second place and Cambodia (10.82) in third.

Last year’s number one, Mozambique, falls to 12th place after receiving less than half the number of FDI projects in 2018 as it did in 2017. Serbia takes over as the index leader, up one position from the previous year.

Serbia soars

Serbia’s index score has improved by 1.33 index points. Although the country’s GDP growth was high in 2018 (14.8%), it received 107 FDI projects – 26 more than 2017 – growing by almost one-third.

Automotive components, food and tobacco, textiles and real estate are Serbia’s leading FDI sectors and combined they accounted for more than half (54%) of total inbound FDI projects in 2018.

Montenegro, which borders Serbia to the south-west and is a new entrant to the 2019 index, ranks second. Although relatively low, the country recorded 11 FDI projects in 2018 – it’s peak year since fDi Markets began recording FDI data in 2003.

Exceeding expectations

Of the 105 locations analysed in the 2019 Greenfield FDI Performance Index, 82 have an index score greater than 1, while 23 have a score of less than 1. A score of 1 indicates a country’s share of global inward greenfield FDI matches its relative share of global GDP. A score greater than 1 indicates a larger share than indicated by its GDP and a score of less than 1 indicates a smaller share.

Serbia, with a score of 11.92, is attracting almost 12 times the amount of greenfield FDI that might be expected given the size of its economy.

Each of the top 10 countries ranked in the 2019 index experienced an increase in FDI project numbers in 2018 compared to 2017.

The index uses a methodology devised by Unctad for overall FDI and applies it to only greenfield FDI – excluding M&A, intracompany loans and other forms of cross-border investment.

Of the 10 largest economies in the world, five have an index score above 1: the UK (2.55), India (1.54), France (1.26), Canada (1.04) and Germany (1.01). Six of the top 10 had a higher score in 2018 compared to 2017 (including Canada, India and the UK).

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