United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): World Investment Report 2000: Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions and Development United Nations, New York and Geneva 2000. (Biblio Service)

By Nachum, Lilach | Management International Review, July 2001 | Go to article overview

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): World Investment Report 2000: Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions and Development United Nations, New York and Geneva 2000. (Biblio Service)


Nachum, Lilach, Management International Review


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): World Investment Report 2000: Cross-Border Mergers and Acquisitions and Development United Nations, New York and Geneva 2000.

1. Capsule Summary of the Book and Its Review

The World Investment Report, published annually by UNCTAD, is celebrating this year its 10th anniversary. Over the years these publications have established themselves an important position within the FDI literature, contributing towards a better understanding of the role of FDI in the world economy and to the ongoing discussions on globalisation and its impact on firms and countries. They provide valuable insights into the activities of TNCs and its consequences for their home countries and for the countries that host them.

This review focuses on the recently published World Investment Report 2000: Cross Border Mergers and Acquisitions and Development. It starts by briefly describing the structure and content of this report, highlighting the main issues addressed in each of its sections, and assessing its specific contribution to the existing FDI literature. The review continues by examining some new features of this year's report and by suggesting possible additions and improvements that might be included in future reports.

2. Objective and targeted audience

This year's report, like its predecessors, seeks to reach a wide audience interested in FDI-related issues, ranging from academics, national and international policy makers -- notably those with interests in and responsibility for developing countries -- and also, increasingly, practitioners. For this audience, it is a rich and most valuable source of different kinds of information (theoretical, anecdotal, and not least -- data!) on FDI. It adds an important dimension to the growing literature on FDI by contributing to filling a gap between purely academic and otherwise anecdotal research on FDI, and it reflects key aspects of the research agenda on TNCs.

3. Structures and Contents

The first part of the report -- like its predecessors -- is devoted to a survey of general FDI developments over the last year at the global and the regional level, and to a description of the activities of the leading TNCs worldwide. In this part, the report documents the large increase in FDIs, which have reached new record in 1999 at $865 billion, an increase of 27% over the previous year. This increase is also presented via the growing number of TNCs world-wide, where about 63,000 parent firms are controlling an estimated 690,000 foreign affiliates. UNCTAD's report is the only source of FDI data which provide this latter kind of information, and in considerable details (broken by countries and regions).

Documented is also the country breakdown of 1999 FDI, notably the lead of outward investment being taken this year by the UK, the continued, and rapidly growing, lead of the US as the largest, by far, host country for FDI. Another notable characteristic of the geographic distribution of FDI is the growth of inward flows to Japan, with the ratio between inward and outward becoming far more balanced than ever before. At the regional level, the report highlights the position of the EU as the world's most important source of FDI. The report emphasises the continued trend towards liberalisation of FDI regimes, as countries recognise its economic value for their economies, and seek to attract it.

Most interesting is the analysis of the largest TNCs (by the value of their foreign assets), which comprises three parts - the top 100 worldwide, the 50 largest from developing countries and the 25 largest from Central Europe. The report provides illuminating information regarding the geographical and industrial distribution of these firms, in absolute (foreign assets) and relative (transnationality index) terms, and over time, covering the whole 1990s.

The report emphasises that the driving force behind the 1999 increase of FDI activity continued to be cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As). …

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