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* Confident FDI flows to see steady growth this year -
* Outbound investments may surpass FDI soon - MOFCOM
* Asian companies by far biggest investors in China
BEIJING, Jan 16 China attracted a record $117.6
billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013, underlining
investors' confidence that the world's second-largest economy
can keep growing at a solid pace while retooling its growth
The Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that China's total
FDI rose 5.3 percent in 2013 from a year earlier. December's
inflows climbed 3.3 percent from a year earlier to $12.1
billion, extending an upward trend seen since March 2013.
"We are confident that we will see steady growth in FDI for
2014, as global investor sentiment recovers and reforms by the
new (Chinese) leadership help attract more foreign capital,"
said Shen Danyang, a spokesman of the Commerce Ministry.
He added that China has obvious advantages as a destination
for foreign investment in coming years, given its huge domestic
market, strong infrastructure support, skilled labour force and
relatively stable social system.
China has attracted a steady flow of foreign investment
every year since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001,
as businesses jumped at the chance to enter the world's most
Asian companies are by far the biggest investors in China,
with investment from the top 10 economies in the region
including Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore rising annually by
7.1 percent in 2013 to $102.5 billion.
Investment from the European Union rose 18.1 percent
year-on-year in 2013 to $7.2 billion, while investment from the
United States climbed 7.1 percent to $3.4 billion.
At the same time, the ministry's data showed more Chinese
companies are expanding abroad. China's outbound direct
investment by non-financial firms jumped 16.8 percent to $90.2
billion last year from 2012.
Shen predicted that China's outbound investment could exceed
foreign direct investment sometime in the near future.
"If not this year, it could be next year or the year after
the next when China's outbound investment surpasses investment
inflows," he said.
The ministry said about 90 percent of the total outbound
investment went into six industries: commercial services,
mining, wholesale and retail, manufacturing, construction and
Chinese firms have been quickening the pace of overseas
purchases in recent years, with their footprint expanding from
Asia to Africa and Europe, though some deals did not go smoothly
as they faced cultural or political resistence in some
China's Bright Food (Group) Co Ltd said this week it had
agreed to buy Australian dairy company Mundella Foods through
its Australian subsidiary.
Despite robust growth in investment, Shen struck a more
sombre tone for the trade outlook, saying it may be difficult
for China to see faster trade growth this year than in 2013.
"We are still facing a relatively severe trade situation
this year, considering the still unsteady global recovery,
rising input costs for domestic firms and fierce competitions
from global markets," Shen added.
Earlier, official data showed China's exports grew 7.9
percent for all of 2013 compared with the previous year, while
imports rose 7.3 percent, missing an official 8 percent growth
target for total trade.
(Reporting by Aileen Wang and Koh Gui Qing; Editing by