UNCTAD report: China becomes largest FDI recipient in 2020

25 Janvier, 2021, 17:17 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • India bucks global decline in FDI grows 13% against world's 42% fall in 2020

China overtook the USA as the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020, a year in which overall global flows cratered by 42 per cent as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a United Nations trade agency said.

"FDI finished 2020 more than 30 percent below the trough after the global financial crisis in 2009 and back at a level last seen in the 1990s", according to the report.

India and Turkey are attracting "record numbers of deals" in the digital and information technology consulting sectors.

FDI flows to China rose by 4 percent to $163 billion, making the country the largest recipient in 2020.

China's gross domestic product grew 2.3% in 2020, official data showed last week, making China the only major economy in the world to avoid a contraction previous year.

It added that "in relative terms, FDI flows declined most strongly in the UK, Italy, Russia, Germany, Brazil and the United States due to the dramatic impact of COVID-19".

FDI in South Asia rose by 10 per cent to United States dollars 65 billion. Infrastructure. Similarly deals in the energy sector propped up M&A values in India, it said.

Global foreign direct investment flows are set to go through a U-shaped recovery, staying weak in 2021, the United Nations warned on Sunday.

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The effects of the pandemic on investment will linger, said James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD, investment division. "Investors are likely to remain cautious in committing capital to new overseas productive assets".

The fall in FDI flows across developing regions was uneven, with -37 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, -18 percent in Africa and -4 percent in developing countries in Asia.

Flows to North America slid by 46 per cent to US$166 billion, and those to the U.S. alone fell 49 per cent to an estimated US$134 billion in 2020. The decline was reflected across all types of investment: the value of announced greenfield projects (-46 per cent), the number of cross-border project finance deals (-seven per cent) and the value of cross-border M&As sales (- four per cent).

Greenfield investment is a kind of FDI, in which the parent company creates a subsidiary in the host country and builds its operations from the ground up. The decline took place in wholesale trade, financial services and manufacturing.

East Asia accounted for a third of global FDI in 2020, while FDI flows to developed countries fell by 69%.

Green-field project announcements - considered an indicator of future FDI trends - were 35 per cent down in 2020, figures that "do not bode well for new investment in industrial sectors in 2021", said the report. "Sharply lower greenfield project announcements ((-) 35 per cent in 2020) suggest a turnaround in industrial sectors is not yet in sight; Upticks in the fourth quarter of 2020 dampened earlier declines in newly announced global project finance deals ((-) 2 per cent for the full year)", the report says.

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