FDI into China gains in first quarter

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China rose marginally in the first quarter, the government announced on Thursday, led by Japanese, EU and US companies after declining last year.

Incoming FDI, which excludes financial sectors, rose 1.4 percent from January to March to $29.9 billion, the commerce ministry said. It was also up 5.65 percent at $12.4 billion in March, rising for the second straight month.

FDI fell in 2012 for the first time in three years owing to global economic uncertainties led by Europe's debt crisis, a slowdown at home and regional political tensions.

Despite an ongoing territorial row in Japan, investment from the country rose 10.5 percent to $2.29 billion in the first three months.

Investment from the European Union, meanwhile, gained 45 percent to $2.05 billion, while that from the United States rose 18.5 percent to $1.06 billion.

"We think, generally, FDI has maintained a trend of steady growth," Commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in welcoming the figures.

"China's use of FDI is developing in the direction of better comprehensive competitiveness and higher overall efficiency," he added.

The ministry also announced that China's non-financial sector overseas investment jumped 44 percent year on year in the first quarter to $23.8 billion.

Investment into the US more than doubled on-year while that to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations jumped 99 percent, the ministry said.

The investment figures come after data this week showed China's economy grew 7.7 percent in January-March, slower than the previous three months.

China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, expanding 7.8 percent from the year before.