China drops out of top three foreign investors in Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - China last year dropped out of the top three foreign investors in Germany for the first time in more than a decade, official German data seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday, as the Chinese government focuses on boosting the domestic economy.

Figures compiled by Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), a government institution, reveal that China is now the fourth largest contributor of foreign direct investment to Germany, behind the United States, Britain and Switzerland.

GTAI managing director Robert Hermann linked the drop to an economic strategy promoted by the Chinese government that focuses on stimulating the domestic economy with investments in infrastructure as well as in research and development.

“The Chinese government regulates capital exports,” Hermann said. “It’s increasingly focused on boosting investments domestically.”

The data showed that the United States remains the largest investor in Germany with 302 projects last year, followed by Britain with 185 and Switzerland with 184.

China, which was the third-largest investor in Germany in 2018, dropped to fourth place for the first time since 2009, when GTAI started compiling the data.

Britain rose from fourth place to become the second-largest foreign investor in Germany as companies alarmed that Brexit will hamper access to the European Union’s single market set up affiliates in Europe’s largest economy.

The data showed that 1,851 foreign companies moved to Germany last year, 10% less than a year earlier. But the number of jobs they planned to create almost doubled to 42,000.

Foreign car and battery makers are driving the job boom created by foreign direct investment, Hermann said.

U.S. electric car maker Tesla TSLA.O plans to build its European factory outside Berlin, Chinese carmaker Geely wants to set up an innovation centre south of Frankfurt, and Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) 300750.SZ is planning a factory in eastern Germany.

GTAI expect foreign investments to fall this year as the coronavirus pandemic sinks the world economy into a recession.

Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Maria Sheahan