[THE INVESTOR] New foreign direct investment pledged to Korea rose to the highest level ever last year, led by rising interest in the nation’s high-tech industries and startups in emerging sectors, government data showed on Jan. 3.
Korea received US$26.9 billion worth of FDI commitments in 2018, up 17.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. It was the fourth consecutive year to surpass the US$20 billion mark.
The actual investment made by foreign companies also jumped 20.9 percent on-year to US$16.39 billion last year, the ministry said.
Investment pledges from the European Union soared 26.9 percent to a record high of US$8.92 billion, 33.2 percent of the total, as investors showed more interest in the Korean finance and service sectors.
American companies sought partnerships and acquisitions in high-tech industries and tech startups, pledging US$5.88 billion over the period, a 24.8 percent surge.
New FDI commitments from China rose a whopping 238.9 percent to US$2.74 billion, led by brisk investment in the real estate and service industry.
In contrast, investment pledges from Japan declined 29.4 percent to US$1.3 billion as Japanese companies increasingly shifted their focus to China and Southeast Asian nations.
By sector, the service industry attracted US$15.58 billion of investment commitments, and the manufacturing industry drew in US$10.05 billion this year.
Greenfield investments, in which a parent company begins a new venture or establishes new facilities, accounted for 77.4 percent of the new investment in the manufacturing sector, while the rest of the investment was in the form of mergers and acquisitions.
By Song Seung-hyun and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)