Even as countries compete to attract investments, 80 percent of national investment promotion agencies are failing to respond to investor inquiries in the key sectors of agribusiness and tourism, according to the World Bank Group’s Global Investment Promotion Best Practices 2012 report.
The report assessing 189 economies’ responsiveness to investors finds that investment promotion agencies are less responsive to direct investor inquiries than they were three years ago. In the areas of inquiry-handling and website performance over the past two years, two regions showed improvement—the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
“In difficult times, governments may be tempted to cut funding for investment promotion. However, this can cost them opportunities to secure investments and jobs,” said Pierre Guislain, Director of the Bank Group’s Investment Climate Department. “Skilled investment promotion agencies can give economies a competitive advantage by helping investors choose a suitable location and set up operations that create jobs and promote growth.”
The report shows that limited resources need not be an obstacle to effectiveness. For example, Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency, one of the world’s top-performing agencies, has only 10 staff members spread across a range of functions. It also finds investment promotion websites to be a bright spot, with 62 percent of agencies implementing best practices.
Nicaragua’s investment promotion agency PRONicaragua emerged as the world’s top investment facilitator, becoming the first developing country to do so. PRONicaragua achieved best-practice standards in website performance and response to investor inquiries.
“We believe that the level of service an Investment Promotion Agency offers influences an investor’s first impression of a country’s investment climate, as it demonstrates that Government’s attitude and commitment towards investors. It is with that vision, through commitment to offering high quality service and insuring that each and every investor get the information they need, we try to build a strong sense of comfort about doing business in our country and promote economic development.” said Javier Chamorro, CEO of PRONicaragua.
The report was produced by the Investment Climate Department of the World Bank Group (which includes IFC, MIGA, and the World Bank) and sponsored by ProInvest, a European Commission partnership program for the countries of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, and by the government of Spain.