China, the UK and Germany rank as the top countries for international investment opportunities, according to the 'winning strategies in economic development marketing' survey by US-based location marketing firm, Development Counsellors International (DCI). The survey found that Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina are the top ranking states in the US in terms of business climate.

Since 1996, DCI has conducted its survey every three years, but this is the first time that it has extended to international destinations.

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In terms of business climate, 41% of corporate executives named the Asia-Pacific region as having the best international growth opportunities, followed by western Europe, which was cited by 29% of respondents. China, the UK and Germany ranked first, second and third, respectively, followed by India and Brazil, as the countries with the strongest international investment opportunities.

“An interesting finding is that, among the top five countries identified, three are BRIC countries,” said DCI president Andrew T Levine. “We also found the mid-sized companies that had not done a lot of overseas business tend to start in Europe.”

The survey revealed that executives involved in manufacturing and those involved in the services have different views on where they see the most opportunity for international growth. Half of surveyed manufacturing executives selected the Asia-Pacific region. “This changed dramatically when we looked at service executives,” said Mr Levine. Those executives saw western Europe as the most promising region. They noted market access, followed by cost savings, as the primary drivers for a potential international expansion.

Mr Levin noted that for Latin America, there was not much variation between manufacturing executives and service industry executives. In the US, southern states ranked high primarily because they are business friendly, less unionised, offer better tax climates and are more aggressive with incentives.

Texas, which has consistently held the number one ranking since 1999, was the clear winner, with 49.7% of respondents naming the state as having the most favourable business climate. Florida ranked a far second, cited by 18.1% of respondents. Georgia and North Carolina tied for third with 17.6% of the votes. South Carolina and Tennessee came in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

At the other end of the scale, 74% of respondents ranked California as having the worst business climate. Illinois was named the worst state for business by 35% of respondents, largely due to tax changes.