Emerging markets are winning the race to attract global infrastructure investment
- Singapore, Qatar & UAE top the ARCADIS Global Infrastructure Investment Index ranking
- UK, USA are moving up the index, but need to take urgent action to attract greater funding to replace their aging infrastructure
- Emerging markets including Philippines and Indonesia are rising up the index
Singapore is the most attractive market in the world for infrastructure investment, according to ARCADIS, the leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm. Qatar and UAE completed the top three with their strong business environments, healthy pipelines of development work and growing economies, making them attractive to investors, including pension funds and banks.
The findings come from the second ARCADIS Global Infrastructure Investment Index which ranks 41 countries by their attractiveness to investors in infrastructure. In order to gauge their appeal the study looked at various issues including the ease of doing business in each market, tax rates, GDP per capita, government policy, the quality of the existing infrastructure and the availability of debt finance. Combining all of these factors provided a strong overview of the risk profile for each market and how attractive each one is likely to be to potential investors.
Rob Mooren, Global Director of Infrastructure at ARCADIS said: “Good infrastructure is important for the long term economic development of a country. Many governments are struggling to finance infrastructure investments. As traditional debt markets are now harder to access, governments need to find alternative finance and agree to progressing projects. By encouraging private finance into infrastructure, governments can remain globally competitive and meet their social and economic objectives.”
The GIII 2014 ranks the following as the top ten most attractive countries for infrastructure investment in 2014. The difference from their 2012 ranking is in brackets:
Singapore attractive, but better investment opportunities may lie elsewhere
Singapore’s integrated strategic plan linking infrastructure planning with business and social requirements helped it to retain its top position in the index. However, the government self-finances most major projects so investment opportunities are limited. Therefore other countries with major investment plans such as Qatar and the UAE, and emerging Asian markets such as Malaysia and the Philippines are considered more promising for investors.
USA and UK enter top ten, but must deliver against pipeline promise
The USA and the UK entered the top 10 for the first time through improvements in their economies as well as the growing need for investment in infrastructure. However, both countries must work hard to attract private investment funds, as they compete against countries that provide more clarity on government infrastructure policy and are able to act on their promises to delivery major projects.
Continental European countries struggling to attract finance
Continental European countries present a mixed picture in their attractiveness to investors. At the top of the Continental European table, low risk markets like Sweden and Norway remain stable at fifth and sixth. Both have highly efficient business environments with transparency in regulation and efficient legal systems. Continental European countries such as Holland, France and Italy are either lacking public finance needed to upgrade their ageing infrastructure or have a lack of commitment from their governments to deliver proposed projects. They have therefore slipped down the rankings.
Latin America countries vary in attractiveness
Chile is the highest placed Latin America country at 13th position, but its potential is limited by its size. In 2013 its construction market was estimated to be worth US$41.8billion but this is highly concentrated in mining. Brazil is placed nearer the bottom of the ranking in 32nd place, indicating that some of the difficulties experienced with delayed programs have the potential to be risky for investors.
Rob Mooren continued: “A key difference that we have seen in the Asian and Middle Eastern markets is that those countries that have a clear integrated strategy tying infrastructure development plans to business and economic objectives have higher rankings. This gives long term clarity to investors and is something that developed markets would do well to copy if they are to succeed in attracting more private finance into infrastructure.”
The report also explored the factors that governments, infrastructure owners and operators need to consider in order to attract private finance. It suggested the structuring of infrastructure projects is key to this. For example, in project finance, mature markets like Canada, Australia, the US and the UK have sponsors that understand the pricing of assets, are aware of the rates of return expected and appreciate the key risks involved, making it easier to attract infrastructure investment. These markets have experienced the early challenges of introducing PPP and PFI and have learned what to expect from both an investor and political perspective
Rob Mooren concluded: “Markets that have created the right political environment committed to infrastructure development, can demonstrate the economic conditions required to sustain long term growth. They have attractively structured infrastructure schemes which will stay ahead of the competition when it comes to attracting the pool of international investors who are increasingly considering this asset class.”
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- Andy Rowlands, Head of Corporate Communications at ARCADIS
M'sia second in Asia for infrastructure investment
Malaysia has been ranked second in the Asian region in terms of being an attractive market for investment in infrastructure, according to Arcadis.
Globally, Malaysia is placed at the 7th position, ahead of the US, Australia and United Kingdom.
The findings come from the second Global Infrastructure Investment Index, where it looked at various factors including the ease of doing business in each market, tax rates, GDP per-capita, government policy, quality of existing infrastructure and the availability of debt finance.
Arcadis Head of Infrastructure for Asia Richard Warburton said that infrastructure is the backbone of a country and a catalyst for its long-term economic development.
With Malaysia's average annual population growth rate of 1.4%, he said, investment in new infrastructure will be imperative.
"Combined with Malaysia's goal of a high-income status by 2020, plans are already underway for specific cities and urban clusters under Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley to be developed into vibrant, productive and liveable cities that are comparable to other major cities in the world.
The top 10 most attractive countries in Asia Pacific for infrastructure investment this year are Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, China, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, India and Philippine.
Warburton said countries that have created the right political environment for sustained long-term economic growth and have attractively structured infrastructure schemes will stay ahead of the competition to attract international inventions.
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