China Overtakes U.S. As Top Spot For Foreign Investment

By Agence France-Presse China overtook the United States as a top global destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2003, while the Asia-Pacific region attracted more investment than any other developing region, a United Nations report said Sept. 22. China's strong manufacturing industry helped the country attract FDI last year worth $53.5 billion, compared with $52.7 billion in 2002, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its annual report on investment flows. Meanwhile, foreign investment in the United States, traditionally the largest recipient of such money, plunged by 53% last year to reach $30 billion, the lowest level in 12 years, according to data from UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2004. Flows to the Asia-Pacific region as a whole rebounded over the year to $107 billion from $94 billion in 2002, driven by strong economic growth and a better investment environment, the agency said. China was expected to continue to attract foreign companies, analysts said. "According to our analysis, FDI in China has not peaked, although their economic growth rates have fallen," UNCTAD economist James Zhan said. "Prospects for a further rise in foreign direct investment flows to Asia and the Pacific in 2004 are promising," UNCTAD's Deputy Secretary General, Carlos Fortin, said in a statement. But the distribution of the new wealth was uneven across the region, with most of the money -- $72 billion -- concentrated in northeast Asia. The manufacturing sector remained the dominant factor that pulled investment into China, but a rise in investment in the services industry was noted elsewhere in line with the global trend, UNCTAD said. Services, including finance, tourism, telecommunications and information technology, formed a growing proportion of foreign direct investment stock in the region -- up to 50% in 2002, the most recent figure available, from 43% in 1995, UNCTAD said. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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