China among world's top three investors in 2012: Government

Containers wait to be transported in Yangshan port in Shanghai, one of the districts that would be included into Shanghai's free trade zone on July 30, 2013. China became one of the world's top three investors for the first time last year as its
Containers wait to be transported in Yangshan port in Shanghai, one of the districts that would be included into Shanghai's free trade zone on July 30, 2013. China became one of the world's top three investors for the first time last year as its foreign investment soared to a new record, the government said on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - China became one of the world's top three investors for the first time last year as its foreign investment soared to a new record, the government said on Monday.

The Asian giant's overseas direct investment rose 17.6 per cent last year from 2011 to US$87.8 billion (S$112.3 billion), according to a statement jointly released by the Ministry of Commerce, the National Bureau of Statistics and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

Globally, outbound direct investment fell 17 per cent, it said, and the contrasting developments made China one of the world's top three investors.

Last year's increase represented an acceleration from 8.5 per cent in 2011, when the global economic recovery was weak in the face of continuing financial turmoil in Europe and the United States.

Beijing has been encouraging Chinese companies to "go international" as the country's economy steams ahead, with its appetite expanding for both resources and global market share.

The government has set goals of increasing overseas direct investment at an average annual rate of 17 per cent through 2015 to US$150 billion.

By the end of 2012, China's total outstanding overseas direct investment stood at US$531.9 billion, the 13th highest in the world, said the statement.

The figure was small compared with developed countries as "China's outbound direct investment took off rather late", the statement said, noting that US overseas investments were 10 times larger and Britain's more than three times the size.

"The sectors (China) has invested in are broad and comprehensive, although (the value) is rather concentrated in some industries," it said.

The top destination for overseas Chinese investment last year was Hong Kong, while the US rose to second place with US$4.05 billion invested, surging 123.5 per cent from 2011.

By end of of 2012, Chinese companies employed 1.49 million staff overseas, about half of whom foreign citizens, the report added.