China’s Outward Investments Grow, Despite Economic Slowdown
China’s economy has decelerated to its slowest rate of growth in a quarter century, yet China’s outward direct investment (ODI) has continued to expand. Non-financial ODI growth was 10.1 percent in 2015, notes a new report from HSBC, and now exceeds what China receives in foreign direct investment.
The trend has continued into 2016, with ODI surging 80 percent year-on-year in January and February 2016.
Despite its late start as a major overseas investor, China’s ODI has continued to expand, with cross-border mergers and acquisitions leading the charge as China looks to diversify its savings into overseas assets.
In the process, China is increasingly setting its sights on Europe and the U.S., moving away from traditional ODI destinations such as Africa and Latin America.
Those are some of the conclusions reached in a new report from HSBC, “On the New Silk Road IV,” which looks at the continued globalization of China’s capital.
Among the key trends discussed in the report, there has been a shift in Chinese ODI away from Africa and Latin America and toward Europe and the United States. China’s ODI to Africa fell by five percent in 2014, and was down 10.5 percent in Latin America. By contrast, ODI to Europe and the U.S. was up 82 percent and 88 percent, respectively
There is an increasing focus on investment through equity ownership, not debt. Equity now accounts for 80 percent of China’s direct investment assets abroad.
China is also diversifying its ODI flows. “China is shifting away from natural resources towards investing in manufacturing, services, and infrastructure,” says the report.
Trade along the Maritime Silk Road—a Chinese strategic initiative to increase investments and foster collaboration across the historic Silk Road—is increasing. Trade between China and countries along the Maritime Silk Road now accounts for 20 percent of China’s total foreign trade, up from 14.6 percent of trade ten years ago.
Mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. M&A has become China’s most common form of outbound investment, accounting for 60 percent of ODI in 2015, up from 40 percent in 2010.
“China’s outward investment will continue despite, or even because of, the domestic economic slowdown, as the country looks to diversify its savings into overseas assets,” says the report. Growth in ODI has held up during past slowdowns, the report also noted.
“We believe the economic case for the continued globalization of China’s capital is intact despite the slowdown in its domestic economy,” the report concludes. “China is looking to invest in assets that will make long-term returns.”
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