Wednesday 08th July 2020
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Foreign direct investment climbs in the region as influence of Brexit fades

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As Brexit faded as a key influence on overseas investment decisions, the East of England benefitted from an 11 per cent rise in the number of foreign direct investment projects to 40 last year, up from 36 in the previous year, according to the EY 2020 UK Attractiveness Survey. The FDIs - of which 23 were new to the region – created nearly 3,000 jobs across the East, an average of average of 117 jobs per project and more than double the average level for UK projects.

Over the past four years the East has secured 116 new FDI projects although the region’s market share of UK FDI projects fell from from 3.2% in 2018 to 2.9% in 2019. Jobs created in the region included around 2,000 in a new investment by a US firm, 118 at a logistics provider and 100 jobs at a tech firm expanding an existing FDI project. Cambridge remained the leading city for FDI in the East with a quarter of the region's total investment. Other towns seeing more projects included Milton Keynes (six), Norwich (three), Bedford and Harwich (both two) and Southend-on-Sea, Ipswich and Ely, all with one. Overall the UK recorded 1,109 projects in 2019 behind France with 1,197  and the first time the UK hasn’t topped the survey since 1997. But the UK surged ahead in digital tech, attracting 432 projects, a rise of 114 on the previous year and equivalent to attracting a 30 per cent share of all European projects.

Stuart Wilkinson, office managing partner at EY in the East of England, said: “The news that FDI projects are having a positive impact on job creation in the region is a welcome boost, considering the challenges that have faced some businesses since 2016, due to economic uncertainty, post the EU referendum. Whilst the US remains the region’s most common originator of FDI, with a 32 per cent share, having seen an increase of six projects in 2019, it’s crucial to the region’s ongoing sustainability that investment continues to come from elsewhere, including outside of Europe.” After the US, the East’s top three sources of FDI were Canada (8 per cent) and Japan and UAE, (both 7 per cent).