Latest UK Attractiveness Survey published by accountancy firm EY reveals the level of foreign direct investment into the North West. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool attracted eight foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in 2019, identical to the 2018 figure, new data shows .
There were 73 FDI projects in the North West during 2019, up from 70 in 2018, with Manchester leading the way with 34 projects, according to the EY 2020 UK Attractiveness Survey, published on Thursday.
Although Manchester and Liverpool were the two biggest recipients of FDIs during the year, there was a 28% growth across other North West locations. Knowsley, St Helens and Haydock in Merseyside all picked up an additional FDI project each. Overall, FDIs across the region led to the creation of 3,389 jobs.
Published annually, the EY report examines the performance and perceptions of the UK and its regions as destinations for FDI, and this year includes a survey of 800 international investors looking at the impact of COVID-19 on investment.
Of Liverpool’s eight FDI projects, three were in the digital sector and two were in the business services sector. Liverpool was ranked 14th overall for FDI while Manchester was the best performing city in the UK (outside of London). Crewe attracted the largest project, which created approximately 582 manufacturing jobs.
Despite the small rise in the North West figure in 2019, the total number of FDI projects in the North West remained lower than the record 20-year high seen in 2017 (105). The region came fourth in the overall ranking of all UK regions and devolved administrations, behind Greater London (538), Scotland (101) and the South East (83).
The two leading sectors in the North West in 2019 were digital (23 projects) and business services (11 projects), accounting for 45% of investment into the region. This was in line with the UK as a whole with digital (39%) and business services (15%) accounting for the highest proportions of projects across the nation.
The most common origins of projects into the North West in 2019 was also reflective of the wider national picture with the US (34%) and Germany (12%) leading the rankings. India and Ireland were recorded as joint third with each country attributable for 7% of investment into the region.
Jenn Hazlehurst, office managing Partner at EY in Liverpool, said: “It’s encouraging to see that Liverpool continues to thrive as an attractive place for foreign investment, maintaining its level of FDI from 2018, despite a year of political and economic uncertainty.
“Digital tech accounted for the majority of FDI projects in Liverpool and across the North West regional as a whole. We’ve seen the strongest year in the decade in terms of digital investment, highlighting how the region is a fantastic example of a modern, progressive economy.”
The research also shows that investors feel that FDI projects in the UK are well-placed to recover from the impact of COVID-19, and that the UK is likely to outperform the global market in attracting post-pandemic investment.
An analysis of changes in the UK’s FDI project origins over the three years since the 2016 EU Referendum shows that the UK has been able to rebalance its investments to compensate for a decline in EU originated projects, further illustrating the transition underway in the UK economy.
Investors appear less likely to regard Brexit as a risk factor, with just 24% of survey respondents citing it as a risk factor this year, compared to 38% last year.