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From Site Selection magazine, May 2020

Every May, as part of our Global Best to Invest Report, Site Selection magazine produces proprietary rankings recognizing the IPAs from every region of the world that the market deems best in class, those most proficient at doing the hyper-critical work of creating jobs for their citizens. The leading agencies, and their counterparts in every corner of the world, are needed now more than ever. These organizations will shoulder much of the burden of helping rebuild economies, and replace the jobs lost, in response to to this unprecedented challenge.

Many of this year’s winners have will seem familiar — they’ve been similarly recognized in years past. Many represent regions also ranked in our overall Best to Invest Awards. This is hardly coincidence, and it’s fair to believe that many of these, through their ingenuity, professionalism and adaptability, will represent regions that lead the recovery as we emerge from these dark days.

IPAs are all-too-often underappreciated, viewed by politicians as a tool to generate job-creation headlines, distrusted by taxpayers as purveyors of corporate welfare. Few truly understand the hyper-critical role IPAs play in ensuring the economic stability and growth of the regions they serve. In a period of exploding unemployment and heretofore unseen economic headwinds, their work has never been more vital. The best of the best deserve their well-earned recognition, and we’ll look to them to continue their sound stewardship of the economies they serve as we rebuild.

This is one of the very few rankings this magazine publishes based entirely on subjective input. The annual Top IPAs are selected by you, the corporate decision-makers and global site consultants who work with them day in and day out. On the following pages we join these global experts in celebrating those agencies at the top of their field. Winning agencies were selected on the following criteria:

  • Most professionally responsive to inquiries
  • Staff possessing the best knowledge and language diversity
  • Offering access to user-friendly databases of available 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
  • Best reputation for aftercare services
  • Website: Is it easy to navigate, does it possess a wide breadth of data and does it have an efficient, modern design with current data?

The winners tick those boxes. Our congratulations to all of them. To perennial winners like EDB Singapore, Dubai FDI and CINDE (Costa Rica.) Congrats to first-time winners like Mauritius Economic Development Board and ATEED (Auckland, New Zealand). Congratulations to all who toil in this critical industry for the betterment of their peoples. We need you now more than ever.

Easter Europe, Western Europe & Central Asia



  • Ireland is a global center for Financial Services. Over 430 Financial Services companies are operating from Ireland today, including 20 of the Top 25 Global Institutions.
  • Investment in 2019 will be 3.5% of national income, placing Ireland in the top 10 European countries for the level of public investment (EU average 2.7% GDP in recent years).


  • Germany Trade & Invest recorded a record of 2,062 foreign direct investment projects in 2018.
  • According to a study carried out by Ernst & Young, investment in German startups rose by 36% year-on-year, reaching €6.2 billion euros in 2019.


  • Hungary’s Corporate Income Tax rate is 9%
  • The automotive sector is one of Hungary’s core industries and generates almost 21% of total exports.


  • Estonia is a cashless society with over 99% of financial transactions occurring digitally.
  • Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, Estonia ranks in second place with a literacy rate of 99.8%


Scottish Development International

  • Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen all feature in the UK’s top 10 locations for FDI.
  • Scotland’s research and development spend in the higher education sector, as a percentage of GDP, is the fifth highest in the developed world.


  • By truck, it is possible to reach a population of almost 60 million inhabitants in four hours and an area comprising about 20 major cities in eight hours.
  • The percentage of qualified human resources in Belgium is among the highest in the world: 25% of people of working age have at least one higher education diploma.


  • Gdańsk is Poland’s principal seaport and the center of the country’s fourth-largest metropolitan area.
  • Gdańsk owns extensive land available for investments and sites designated for development, including buildings of historic status.


  • With its 19 industrial estates, two free zones and seven universities, Izmir is a lifeline of the Turkish economy.
  • The Aegean Free Zone provides unique advantages for companies with its focus on manufacturing, one of which is 100% Corporate Tax Exemption, and 100% income tax exemption on employees’ salaries for manufacturing companies which export 85% or more of their products.


Middle East & Africa



  • As part of an overall market-opening strategy and liberalization, Morocco proceeded during the last decade to establish a legal framework to boost its trade ties with more than 55 countries.
  • Morocco has a continuously growing economy with an average growth rate of 4% over the period 2004-2015, while maintaining an inflation rate below 2%.

Invest in Israel

  • Israel is ranked No.4 for research personnel and has the highest concentration of engineers and PhDs per capita in the world.
  • Israel is the only country in the world to have free trade agreements with the U.S., Mexico and Canada, as well as the European Union and the European Free Trade Association, at the same time.

EDB Bahrain

  • Connected to the $1.5 trillion GCC market, Bahrain is the natural gateway to the Gulf, with particularly favorable access to Saudi Arabia, the region’s single largest market and economy.
  • Bahrain ranks No. 1 globally for work/life balance and No. 1 in MENA for personal happiness, regarded highly for its job opportunities, career satisfaction rates, and its friendly culture — noted for being the world’s second easiest place to settle.


  • Mauritius is among the top three countries worldwide, besides Estonia and Canada, with the purest quality of air.
  • The Mauritius Financial Sector has more than US$85 billion in assets under management.


Dubai FDI

  • The UAE is No. 1 in the MENA region as the most attractive destination for infrastructure investment according to the Bridging Continents Report.
  • UAE retains its No.1 position globally in macro-economic stability on the World Economic Forum rankings. It also ranks No.2 in ICT Adoption. The UAE tops the overall ranking in the Arab world.


  • The economy of the United Arab Emirates (or UAE) is the second largest in the Middle East (after Saudi Arabia), with a GDP of $414 billion (AED 1.52 trillion) in 2018.
  • The total value of exports and imports of goods and services equals 161.8% of GDP.


  • The 21 countries that are members of COMESA have a combined population of about 560 million people and a combined gross domestic product of about $753 billion, constituting a huge market for investment, with the highest rate of return on investment in the world.
  • There are 600 million African mobile users, more than in Europe or North America.


  • The strength of KwaZulu-Natal as a preferred investment destination is its two major seaports — Durban and Richards Bay — as well as Dube TradePort, home to King Shaka International Airport.
  • South Africa’s top exports include gold, diamonds, platinum, coal briquettes and cars. Leading export destinations are China, the United States of America, India, the United Kingdom and Germany.


Central America ,the Caribbean & South America



  • Costa Rica ranks No. 1 1 in LATAM in skills of graduates, secondary-education and university graduates, as well as skills of current and future workforce.
  • Over 20% of Fortune 100 companies and hundreds of high-tech enterprises have established operations in Costa Rica during the last 30 years.


  • Colombia is the fourth largest IT market in the region after Brazil, Mexico and Chile, and according to IMD World Talent Ranking, it has the third most qualified workforce in Latin America and the first in terms of growth and training.
  • Colombia has more than 16 trade agreements in force, enabling preferential access to more than 60 countries and nearly 1.5 billion consumers across markets including the United States, the European Union, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and South Korea.


  • Chile is No. 1 in the region and No. 2 in the world in renewable energy investment, as well as No. 1 in the region in solar energy generation.
  • Foreign tourists have more than doubled in the last 10 years and tourist spending currently totals about US$3.7 billion per year, 28% more than six years ago.

Invest TT

  • Trinidad’s two industrial ports, located in Port-of-Spain and Point Lisas, serve as key transshipment centers between the Americas.
  • Energy production and downstream industrial use dominate the economy. Oil and gas typically account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports but less than 5% of employment.


Panama Pacifico

  • Panama Pacifico, a former U.S. military base, is now one of the largest mixed-use developments in the Americas, with 1,400 hectares focused on creating a platform that fosters value, creativity and growth.
  • Panama Pacifico is strategically located at the Pacific Ocean entrance of the Panama Canal just across the Bridge of the Americas. This special economic area is placed in the heart of the worldwide trade with direct access to the Pan-American Highway, connecting Panama with Central and North America.

Invest Bogota

  • According to the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business survey, Colombia has the third best business environment in Latin America, after Mexico and Chile.
  • From 2008 to 2018, Bogota-Region has received approximately $22.2 billion in foreign direct investment. The projects were mainly in Business Services (14%) and Software & IT Services (13%).


  • Curacao is home to many of the world’s leading financial institutions. There are more than 52 credit institutions operating in Curaçao, including over 30 international banks.
  • Curaçao is located at the crossroads of the latest high-capacity Caribbean submarine fiber-cable networks. Arcos 1, PanAm and Americas II, providing ample bandwidth while maintaining a number of connectivity options to or from the island.

Sao Pualo

  • São Paulo is home to the Port of Santos, the largest container terminal in Latin America, accounting for 25% of the Brazilian trade flow.
  • Serving more than 90 airlines in 61 countries, Embraer is the third largest manufacturer of commercial jets in the world.


Asia Pacific



  • Singapore is the fourth largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world.
  • Singapore is the highest ranked Asian city in Savills “Tech Cities Index.”


  • Nine of the top 10 Fortune Global 500 and eight of the top 10 Forbes Global 2000 companies have operations in Australia.
  • Australia has entered its 28th year of consecutive annual economic growth, setting a new record among developed economies for uninterrupted expansion.



  • Close to one-third of Australia’s aerospace enterprises are based in Queensland, with aircraft manufacturing and repair services contributing around $565 million to the state economy.
  • Queensland has a strong, stable economy, pro-business government and solid economic growth. It was recently ranked as the world’s eighth-most resilient economy to economic cycles.


  • The Auckland Convention Bureau, a unit within ATEED, has secured 100 different business events in 2018 to be held over the next nine years.
  • Auckland’s film industry has a 66.9-acre production site in Kumeu.

Adam Jones-Kelley
President of Conway, Inc.

Adam Jones-Kelley

Adam Jones-Kelley serves as President of Conway and Publisher of Site Selection magazine, having been with the company for nearly 20 years. Adam is a featured speaker at events around the world and a regular contributor to Conway's various publications.


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