FDI into China climbs in first half

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China rose 4.9 percent year-on-year during the first half of 2013, official data showed Wednesday, despite slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.

Outbound investment from China leapt 29.0 percent to $45.6 billion, the commerce ministry announced, with major increases in the crucial US and Australian markets.

Incoming FDI, which excludes financial sectors, increased to $62.0 billion from January through June, the ministry said. For June itself, it rose 20.1 percent year-on-year to $14.4 billion.

"Investment from Japan, the EU and US maintained rather rapid growth," ministry spokesman Shen Danyang told reporters.

Japan invested $4.7 billion in the six-month period, up 14.4 percent on year, with EU investment 14.7 percent higher at $4.0 billion and that from the United States rising 12.3 percent to $1.8 billion.

The vast majority of investment into China comes from a group of 10 Asian countries and regions including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

Inflows from those economies gained 5.3 percent on-year to $53.8 billion during the first half.

Inward investment fell in 2012 for the first time in three years as clouds gathered over the global economy such as in Europe, while China suffered its own economic slowdown and political tensions soared with Japan.

"It is premature to come to the conclusion FDI has recovered with the single month data in June," Shen said. "But FDI was relatively stable in the first half and gradually rebounded.

"We expect FDI to maintain steady growth in the second half of the year."

China's economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012 as gross domestic product expanded 7.8 percent.

In the first half of this year growth slipped again to 7.6 percent, Beijing said this week.

Chinese overseas investment increased significantly in the period, with money flowing into the United States almost quadrupling, jumping 290 percent year-on-year.

It almost doubled into resource-rich Australia, where it went up 93 percent, and investment into the European Union also rose 50 percent.

However, investment into Japan, with which China is embroiled in a row over disputed islands in the East China Sea, fell 9.1 percent.

Shen said the fall was mainly a result of a widening choice of investment destinations for cash-rich Chinese companies, as well as "investment barriers" in Japan.

"Whether the Japanese economy and its investment environment is the most ideal among all the countries and regions for (Chinese) companies to go is up to the market and the companies to decide," he said.

In May China's Shuanghui International announced it would buy US meats giant Smithfield for $4.7 billion, while Australia is a crucial source of commodities for Beijing.

Mergers and acquisitions accounted for around 30 percent of China's investment in the first half, Shen said, citing oil giant CNOOC's $15.1 billion purchase of Canada's Nexen -- the largest ever overseas takeover by a Chinese firm -- as an example.

The most appealing sectors for Chinese investors were construction, which surged 541 percent in January-June, science and technology (151 percent), mining (142 percent) and real estate (110 percent).