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Foreign investment slows, but prospects bright
( 2003-10-16 03:18) (China Daily)

China's acquisition of foreign direct investment (FDI) dropped for the fourth consecutive month, but the country remains an attraction to foreign investors and prospects are still bright, official statistics indicate.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, from January to September, 29,539 foreign-invested enterprises were approved to be established, a rise of 18.59 per cent over the same period last year.

Contractual FDI stood at US$79.21 billion, 36 per cent higher over the first nine months from last year, while overall foreign investment was US$40.24 billion, growing 11.85 per cent.

The acquisition of foreign funds in the past month was only US$3.56 billion, down 30 per cent year-on-year, making it the fourth straight declining month.

A man walks past the banners of several foreign banks before a building in Shanghai. [newsphoto.com.cn]

Jin Bosheng, director of the foreign investment research department of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation, attributed the drops to the aftermath of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak earlier this year.

"We should not make a fuss over the drops, and I believe the momentum of the inflow of foreign capital is still strong,'' Jin said.

He said that although investment was suppressed due to SARS worries, contractual FDI maintained a dynamic growth and the number of actual foreign investors will surely have a big jump in this quarter.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, contractual FDI rose by more than 90 per cent to US$11.68 billion in September year on year.

"Considering the latency of the contractual investment, interest is bound to boom within the next half-year,'' Jin said.

He explained that apart from the traditional attractions of an opening market, strong economic growth and the grasp of the international manufacturing industry shift, China has another advantage; its stable political and secure investment environment, whereas many other countries are troubled by fears of terrorism and other matters.

"I am very confident that the FDI growth in China can remain steady for the next five to 10 years,'' Jin said.

He predicted overseas investment in China will still grow by about 15 per cent over last year and reach US$60 billion, although it was only US$40.24 billion over the first nine months of 2003.

China has attracted a total of US$907.27 billion in contractual FDI since 1979.

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