Global flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) will be under severe pressure this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These vital resources are expected to fall sharply from 2019 levels of $1.5 trillion, dropping well below the trough reached during the global financial crisis and undoing the already lackluster growth in international investment over the past decade. Flows to developing countries will be hit especially hard, as export-oriented and commodity-linked investments are among the most seriously affected.
The consequences could last well beyond the immediate impact on investment flows. Indeed, the crisis could be a catalyst for a process of structural transformation of international production this decade, and an opportunity for increased sustainability, but this will depend on the ability to take advantage of the new industrial revolution and to overcome growing economic nationalism. Cooperation will be crucial; sustainable development depends on a global policy climate that remains conducive to cross-border investment.