Friday, October 19, 2012

Foreign investment in China falls further

BEIJING - Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China continued to fall in September, the government said on Friday, owing to persistent weakness in the global economy and a slowdown in China.

Investment from overseas declined by 6.8 percent from a year earlier to US$8.43 billion last month, the commerce ministry said.

The decline continued a downward trend stretching back to November, with the exception of May, when FDI eked out a marginal gain of 0.05 percent.

The government has blamed the slump on the slowdown in global economic growth, the prolonged European debt crisis and rising costs and weak demand at home.

For the first nine months of the year, foreign firms invested US$83.4 billion in factories and other projects in China, down 3.8 percent from the same period a year ago, the ministry said.

Investment by the 27-member countries of the European Union fell 6.3 percent on year in the first nine months of the year to US$4.83 billion, while that from the United States dipped 0.63 percent to US$2.37 billion, the ministry said.

Capital flows from 10 Asian countries and regions including Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea also tumbled by 4.9 percent year-on-year in the period to US$70.99 billion, it added.

Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said China was in an "adjustment stage" in terms of receiving foreign funds but that the government remains optimistic about the country's long-term appeal to overseas investors.

"We think the general trend of FDI development in the country remains positive and healthy," he told reporters at a briefing.

He added that there were "positive changes" in the quality and structure of the use of foreign capital, such as a rise in fund flows into less developed central China.

Data on Thursday showed the world's second-largest economy has slowed for seven consecutive quarters, expanding 7.4 percent in the three-month period ending on September 30, its worst performance since the first quarter of 2009.

Exports, the key indicator of the health of China's vital manufacturing sector, rose 9.9 percent in September on year to a record monthly high, but analysts warned the performance was unsustainable given the weak global outlook.

Shen downplayed hopes that the export sector has yet bottomed out.

"Currently the trade environment remains complicated and draconian and there are still many difficulties in expanding foreign demand, so that it is too early to come to the conclusion that China's foreign trade has recovered based on data for the single month," he said.

"The most key target for the full year at the moment is to try hard to maintain and improve our global market share."

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