The Best to Invest Top IPA Awards recognize the professionalism and preparedness the leadership and staff of the winning IPAs demonstrate day in and day out. This is one of the few rankings Site Selection awards based on largely subjective criteria, and we take that responsibility very seriously. To ensure the credibility of the rankings, the editors of Site Selection joined with the Board of Directors of the Global FDI Association and a select group of international site consultants from every market to judge investment promotion agencies from every region of the world. Those honored as the Top IPAs of 2015 accumulated the most points in voting based on the following criteria:
- Most professionally responsive to inquiries;
- Staff possessing the best knowledge and language diversity;
- Offering access to user-friendly databases of sites and incentives (general and sector-specific);
- Readily available information on timing expectations of permitting and other processes;
- Access to recent investors in the region who can vouch for the area and agency;
- Best reputation for protecting investor confidentiality;
- Reputation for after-care services;
- IPA’s website: easy to navigate, wide breadth of data; cleanest, most efficient design.
“Investment Promotion Agencies (IPA) play a crucial role in harnessing global capital flows,” notes Conway Chief Analyst Max Bouchet. “Globalization creates chaos, but IPAs go against the current. They increase information transparency and support the ‘invisible hand’ in allocating the capital efficiently.”
Bouchet continues, “The most effective IPAs develop proactive and data-driven investment attraction strategies. This ranking recognizes the ones that are best equipped to professionally and confidentially respond to the needs of expanding companies, maximizing efficiency and earning the trust and respect of decision-makers across the globe.”
These are the agencies making the biggest impact on the regions they serve and the workforces so reliant on their efforts. We congratulate all of this year’s very deserving winners, and in particular CINDE, in Costa Rica, and IDA Ireland, who were not only named a Top National IPA, but also won the overall Best to Invest Award for total projects per capita in their regions, a remarkable achievement.
- Slovenia boasts a well-educated workforce.
Forty percent of the population between the ages
of 30 to 34 have completed post-secondary
education or higher. More than 70 percent of the
population speak two or more foreign languages,
including English, German and Italian.
- The country was recognized as the fastest
growing Innovation follower by the European
Innovation Scoreboard. In 2014, it’s estimated
that the share of gross domestic expenditure
on R&D in Slovenia reached 2.39 percent,
above the EU average, with 77 percent of total
funds provided by the business sector.
- Slovenia’s transportation infrastructure
includes more than 24,200 mi. (39,000 km.)
of roads, including 435 mi. (700 km.) of
highways; 1,243 mi. (2,000 km.) of railroads;
three airports and the Port of Koper.
- In 2015, exported goods from Turkey reached $144 billion while
goods coming into the country reached $207 billion.
- Turkey’s booming labor market includes more than 29 million young, welleducated
and motivated professionals. Approximately 610,000 students graduate
each year from more than 183 universities, while approximately 350,000
high school students graduate from vocational or technical high schools.
- Turkey’s corporate income tax rate is 22 percent, down from 30 percent. The
government offers tax benefits and incentives in Technology Development Zones,
Industrial Zones and Free Zones, including total or partial exemption from Corporate
Income Tax, a grant on the employer’s social security share and incentives.
- A study by the Brookings Institution found that Izmir is the second
fastest-growing metropolitan economy in the world.
- Izmir is the third biggest province and has the second
largest commercial center in Turkey.
- Izmir’s traditional exports include: Clothing (12.4 percent), Agriculture
and Animal Products (11.3 percent), Food and Beverage (11.1 percent),
Machinery and Equipment (9.2 percent), Chemicals and Chemical
Products (7.3 percent), Motor Vehicles and Trailers (6.8 percent), Basic
Metal Industry (6.5 percent), Textile products (5.6 percent).
- The Aegean Free Zone opened in 1990, becoming the first manufacturingbased
modern free zone in Turkey. It also is the first Turkish free zone
to be developed and operated by a private-sector company, ESBAS,
the Aegean Free Zone Development and Operating Company.
- The Aegean Free Zone is located on 550 acres (223 ha.) in Gaziemir, Izmir.
There are 175 companies in the Aegean Free Zone, 105 domestic and 70
international. Total trade volume generated in 2015 was $4 billion, and the overall
trade volume generated since the establishment of the Zone is $62 billion.
- More than 18,000 people are employed in the Aegean Free Zone. This accounts
for one-third of the employment generated in all 19 free zones in Turkey.
- A top global economy, Korea is ranked no. 4 in
the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business report.
- In a move demonstrating both maturity and
stability of South Korean competitiveness,
the nation’s corporate tax credit rate for
R&D investment was lowered, but extended
for three years, until December 2018.
- Korea continues to promote green growth.
The OECD reported that in 2015 the country
launched its second five-year plan and
emissions trading system while boosting
public investment in green technology.
- Malaysia is among the top 20 economies in
the world for ease of doing business according
to the World Bank’s Doing Business report.
In 2016, Malaysia is ranked no. 18.
- Malaysia is a member of the 10-nation
ASEAN Economic Community and the
12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade
agreement currently being negotiated.
- The standard corporate tax rate in Malaysia
is 24 percent, though deductions for local
companies can lower the rate to 19 percent.
Incentives are available to certain industries
including manufacturing, IT services
technology, biotechnology and environmental
protection and energy conservation.
- The Hong Kong workforce is plentiful and well-educated. The Hong Kong University
of Science & Technology was ranked no. 4 in Asia in the 2015-16 QS World
University Rankings. The city has two universities in the world’s top 50 and
five in the top 200. The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology’s EMBA
program ranks second in the world in Financial Times EMBA Rankings 2015.
- Hong Kong sea and air cargo hubs account for almost a third of exports in and out
of Mainland China. In 2015, Hong Kong handled nearly 4.4 million tons of airfreight.
- Hong Kong has one of the most tax-friendly economies in the world,
according to the 2016 Paying Taxes study of 189 economies.
- Shanghai has attracted more foreign headquarters than any other city in mainland
China. In 2014, annual foreign investment reached just over $18 billion, an
increase of more than 8.3 percent and the 15th consecutive year of growth.
- Shanghai Port’s import and export volume hit $1.14 trillion in 2014,
accounting for close to one quarter of China’s total volume.
- By the end of 2014, Shanghai became home to 490 regional headquarters of
multinational companies, 297 investment companies and 381 R&D centers.
Latin America & Caribbean
- Costa Rica offers ports on the Pacific and Atlantic
coasts, and Free Trade Agreements providing access
to over 57 trade partners and two-thirds of the
- Ninety percent of electricity in Costa Rica is
generated from clean, renewable sources.
- Telecommunication infrastructure in Costa Rica
provides 100% redundancy. The country has the
highest penetration of mobile devices in Latin
America at 151 percent, even higher than the US.
- Nicaragua plans to invest more than $10
million in renewable energy projects in 2016,
installing thousands of solar panels in areas
not connected to the national grid, and
installing a wind farm on Corn Island.
- The Nicaraguan workforce is young and dynamic
— 76 percent of the population is under age
39. The 3.2 million workers in the country are
considered productive, educated and stable.
- Nicaragua’s economy is among the freest of the
world according to the Economic Freedom of
the World (EFW) report, published by the Fraser
Institute. In the 2015 report, the country is ranked
in 37th out of 157, with a score of 7.40 out of
10. The report analyzes such factors as levels of
personal choice, ability to enter markets, security
of privately owned property and rule of law.
- The nation boasts the highest rate of English speakers in Latin America (15 percent.)
- Over the past decade, Panama has been one of the fastest growing economies
worldwide. According to the World Bank, average annual growth was 7.2
percent between 2001 and 2013, more than double the regional average.
- Panama’s top personal income and corporate tax rates are 25 percent.
Other taxes include a value-added tax and a capital gains tax.
- Bogota has a population of 7.6 million and a gross
domestic product (GDP) of US$90 billion.
- Colombia has the fourth best business environment in Latin America,
according to the World Bank’s 2016 Doing Business survey.
- Bogota boasts a redundant, high-quality telecommunications infrastructure.
Currently, more than half a dozen private providers offer complete
corporate telecommunication solutions. The city is connected by redundant
overland connections to five international underwater cables.
- Ireland is the only English-speaking country
in the Eurozone. The Irish economy grew at 5
percent in 2015, the fastest rate in Europe.
- Ireland experienced 13 percent growth in
exports in the first 3 quarters of 2015 compared
to same period in 2014. The country’s main
export markets are the EU and US.
- The Government’s Information Communications
and Technology (ICT) Action Plan for high-level ICT
skills is designed to double the output of honorslevel
graduates by 2018. Working in conjunction
with industry, third-level institutions will also
provide conversion courses to fast-track honorslevel
graduates from other disciplines into ICT.
- Portugal ranks no. 23 in the World Bank’s
Doing Business 2016 report.
- Portugal’s top corporate tax rate is 23 percent.
Other taxes include a value-added tax.
- In 2014, Portugal’s FDI inflow reached $8.8 billion.
- Saxony-Anhalt leads the Eastern German federal states in FDI according to a study by Ernst & Young published in 2015
- Saxony-Anhalt's economy is characterized by international major companies and small and mid-sized enterprises (SME). SME play a major role in Saxony-Anhalt's economic landscape. They create a strong network of employers in Saxony-Anhalt. Such companies account for three quarters of all employees and two-thirds of all sales.
- Saxony-Anhalt has a highly educated workforce with graduates from two major universities in Halle and Magdeburg, 8 colleges and 26 research institutions.
- Monocle Magazine ranked Copenhagen as the most liveable city in the world in 2008, 2013 and 2014.
- Medicon Valley, spanning Greater Copenhagen and Skåne in Southern Sweden, is one of
Europe’s leading life science clusters. Copenhagen Capacity and Invest in Skåne recently
revamped the mediconvalley.com website, offering a searchable database of 460 companies
and organizations, and more than 20 science parks, research centers and incubators.
- The Copenhagen Airport was declared the best airport in Northern Europe at the World Airport Awards 2015, and
has the most intercontinental, European, Scandinavian and Baltic connections of all the Scandinavian airports.
Africa & Middle East
- Owing to several key free-trade agreements, Morocco offers investors duty free access to
55 countries representing more than 1 billion consumers and 60 percent of world’s GDP.
- Morocco’s 16 universities and 170 private higher education institutions
graduate 40,000 students annually, including 10,000 engineers.
- Thanks to business reforms, Morocco moved up five positions in the 2016 Doing Business
Ranking compiled by the World Bank. Morocco is ranked no. 75 out of 139 economies.
- The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) is working with other national
and provincial government departments creating the Special Economic
Zones Programme, investing millions in revitalizing 10 state-owned
industrial parks located in under-developed and former homelands.
- South Africa was among the top 50 nations in the World Economic Forum’s Global
Competitiveness Index (GCI) in 2015. The nation ranked no. 49 out of 140 countries.
- The top corporate tax rate is 28 percent. Other taxes include
a value-added tax and a capital gains tax.
- As the Middle East’s largest and fastest growing Free
Zone, DMCC is the authority on trade, enterprise and
commodities in Dubai — home to over 12,000 of the
world’s leading businesses of today, and tomorrow.
Established in 2002 as a strategic initiative of
the Government of Dubai, DMCC facilitates trade
and supports businesses through the DMCC Free
Zone, commodity exchanges, legal and regulatory
frameworks and its real estate offering.
- The World Bank ranks the UAE no. 31 out of 189
economies in the 2016 Doing Business data.
- There is no minimum capital requirement for
establishing a business in the UAE. The county
has flexible labor regulations and non-salaried
worker costs are considered moderate.
- Sharjah has three deep-water ports — Port
Khalid, Hamriyah Port and Khorfakkan Port —
providing access to the Indian Ocean and the
Arabian Gulf. The three ports have a combined
capacity of 2.4 million containers.
- Sharjah’s Free Zones offer such incentives as: 100
percent freehold ownership for foreigners, 100
percent repatriation of capital and profits, exemption
of import and export duties, competitive property
and warehouse leases and no income tax.
- Sharjah’s manufacturing sector represents 33
percent of the UAE total manufacturing sector.