Asia Pacific countries – including Australia – must focus on delivering more skilled IT workers if they want to attract greater Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from leading global technology companies, Simon Lacey, Vice President, Global Government Affairs at Huawei Technologies, has told the World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment conference in Sydney.
With operations in over 180 countries around the world – and with a workforce of over 180,000 globally – Huawei is one of the world’s biggest technology companies and Lacey told his international audience that widespread availability of IT talent was the driving force behind where Huawei chose to invest internationally.
“This is why so much of our R&D spend goes towards Europe, where there are deep pools of IT talent waiting to be harnessed,” he said.
“Today, Huawei has research centres in over a dozen countries, including Sweden, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.
“We also have dedicated design centres in Paris and Milan, where we tap into and leverage the existing ecosystem of talented designers that are produced in these two globally recognised centres of design, mostly for the products made by our consumer electronics business.”
However, Lacey also warned that technology skills alone were not enough to attract FDI from companies like Huawei and that it was also crucial for countries to offer investors a solid and consistent policy framework.
“An open and non-discriminatory investment regime that treats all investors equally in all areas of the law and regulation is a big draw card and goes a long way to ensuring that foreign investors will be competing against each other and against local firms on a level playing field,” Lacey told the audience.
In addition, he also said that governments could help to facilitate greater FDI by implementing investment screening procedures to only the most clearly strategic assets – and then making sure that such screenings were transparent and predictable without political interference.
“This provides certainty for foreign investors, which is important when investments are at stake that could be worth millions or even billions of dollars,” he said.
In closing, Lacey told the conference that with cities, regions and countries increasingly competing against one another to attract FDI to stimulate economic growth that investors would be looking closely at which markets offered an open and non-discriminatory investment regime and a stable business environment that worked without undue political interference.
“Give investors these framework conditions and there is almost no limit to what can be achieved,” he said.