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Global Location Trends: 2018 Annual Report


Digital technologies and the continued ability of companies to access international markets are significantly impacting the world economy.

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Two powerful forces are shaping the new era of Globalization 4.0 and disrupting the global economy in the process.

First, digital technologies are transforming industries and global value chains at an unprecedented rate, with significant implications for how and where value is created. Often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the emergence of new digital technologies is not only changing the internal operations of companies but giving rise to a new data-driven global economy.

Second, growing hesitation exists over the future trade agreements that have underpinned corporate internationalization efforts over the last several decades. Ongoing Brexit negotiations are creating uncertainty in Europe, and the US administration is placing the future of NAFTA and other trade agreements in doubt. As a result, the continued ability of companies to access international markets and operate globally is in question.

While the consequences and end state remain unclear, the combination of rapid technological change and uncertainty about future trade is already influencing corporate investment considerations.

Our eleventh annual report on global investments trends shows greater volatility in foreign direct investment (FDI). This volatility is evident both overall and for individual countries as companies and countries adapt to Globalization 4.0—an era that aligns international value creation with the promise of technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial revolution.

Navigating this new era for economic development and job creation will likely put increased pressure on policy makers to shape business environments that are responsive to rapidly—and continually—changing industry requirements.

This report explores what factors are driving foreign direct investment and impacting economic growth around the world. It outlines the origins of foreign direct investment and which countries and regions are benefitting. And finally, what must government and economic developers do to navigate the new era of Globalization 4.0?


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Meet the authors

Jacob Dencik

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, Senior Managing Consultant


Roel Spee

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, Global Leader, IBM Plant Location International



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