Georgia companies interested in investing overseas should take advantage of investment climate reports for 130 countries, available free-of-charge through the World Bank Web site, according to Corrie Shanahan, media and marketing chief for the International Finance Corp., the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group.

          Ms. Shanahan met with members of Atlanta‘s international business community during a meeting at the World Trade Center Atlanta last week to educate potential overseas investors about the IFC’s financing options and expertise available on economies worldwide.

          She encouraged firms considering approaching the IFC in search of project funding in the developing world to conduct careful market research beforehand.  The information in the World Bank’s online reports, she said, is a valuable resource on this front as it includes practical data on how long it takes to start a business in a particular country, as well as country-specific labor regulations and contract enforcement procedures.

          Ms. Shanahan also highlighted for attendees the IFC’s growing focus on “making the business case” for environmental and social responsibility among its partners and clients operating in the developing world.

          She pointed as an example to guidelines drafted and adopted last month by ABN Amro Bank NV, Barclays PLC, Citigroup Inc. and WestLB AG, in cooperation with the IFC, establishing socially responsible lending policies for banks providing financing in emerging markets. 

Six additional banks, including Credit Suisse First Boston and the Royal Bank of Scotland, have since committed to the principles, which require that banks adhere to environmental and social-impact standards when financing infrastructure projects such as dams, power plants and pipelines.

          In this way, financial instutitions and large multinationals meet the challenges of what Ms. Shanahan termed the “new political risk” — local communities in developing countries that have become increasingly successful in halting major infrastructure projects that damage natural and social environments.

          She added that worker health is also an increasingly important component of global corporate responsibility, particularly in countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS cases, which can have a devastating social and economic impact on companies working in those markets.

          For more information, contact Ms. Shanahan at (202) 473-2258.  Visit for the 130 investment climate reports available to the public.