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China's non-financial ODI enters 'fast lane'

By Li Jiabao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-01-17 07:28:33

China's non-financial outbound direct investment continued to surge in 2012, and has now moved into the "fast lane" internationally, according to senior economic officials.

Figures released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Commerce showed that China's non-financial ODI in 2012 increased 28.6 percent from a year earlier to $77.22 billion.

Zhang Xiaoji, director-general of the foreign economic relations department at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said he expects Chinese enterprises will continue what he called "robust investment in overseas markets" in 2013.

"Actually, China's ODI has just moved into the fast lane," he said.

"As domestic enterprises continue to use global resources, and seek more opportunities in overseas markets, that momentum will continue into the future, as long as supportive policies are not changed."

Statistics released by the Ministry of Commerce, the National Bureau of Statistics and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange showed that non-financial ODI in 2011 was worth $68.58 billion, up 14 percent year-on-year.

That figure had been revised up from a preliminary $60.07 billion.

Li Xunlei, deputy CEO and chief economist of Haitong Securities Co Ltd in Shanghai, said he estimated China's non-financial ODI will increase 30 percent in 2013.

"The amount of China's non-financial ODI is still small compared with the country's economic size.

"In addition, the currency still has room for further appreciation while prices of overseas assets in debt-troubled economies are attractive," Li added.

Wang Lezhi, president of Beijing New Century Academy on Transnational Corporations, agreed that China's non-financial ODI will continue to accelerate.

"After years of development, Chinese companies have the motivation to build up their global industrial chains and gain a competitive edge internationally.

"China's economic growth, although slowed in 2012, still outperformed many major economies and provided favorable support for this global expansion."

In late November, Commerce Minister Chen Deming said China's outbound investment will keep rising and equal foreign direct investment being made in China - 111.72 billion in 2012 - within the next five to 10 years.

The country's $3 trillion worth of foreign exchange reserves help support the outbound investment activities of Chinese enterprises.

"The increasing ODI reflects China's active integration globally.

"Balancing the levels of FDI and ODI, the ideal scenario would illustrate China's great progress in establishing itself in the world economy," Wang said.

Zhang said the surging ODI, which reduces pressure on the huge foreign exchange reserves, also shows there are fewer investment opportunities at home, where industrial overcapacity continues.

Chinese investment in Russia, a country abundant in energy products and resources, jumped 117.8 percent year-on-year in 2012, while spending in the United States increased by 66.4 percent year-on-year and 47.8 percent year-on-year in Japan, the new figures showed.

Chinese non-financial ODI in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose 52 percent year-on-year in 2012.

"China's overseas investments mainly concentrate on acquiring natural resources, energy products and advanced technology, as well as building up its overseas sales network," said Zhang.

Provincial investment overseas was valued at $28.19 billion in 2012, or 36.5 percent of China's total non-financial ODI in 2012, an increase of 38.9 percent year-on-year.

Guangdong, Shandong, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Zhejiang provinces were the top investors.

"This is a good sign, and shows that many private businesses have grown up and are starting to embrace international investment, which improves the country's mix of overseas interests," added Zhang.

lijiabao@chinadaily.com.cn

China's non-financial ODI enters 'fast lane'

(China Daily 01/17/2013 page13)

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