Direct investments abroad have increased globally, a new study by the United Nations' trade and development body bears out. But developing and emerging nations have not contributed to the rise.
Foreign direct investments (FDI) rose by 16 percent globally last year, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development announced on Thursday. The Geneva-based body said financial outflows in 2011 amounted to $1.66 trillion ($1.26 trillion euros), up from $1.43 trillion in the previous year.
But the picture was far from homogeneous, UNCTAD warned in its report. While the value of money flowing from highly industrialized nations jumped by a quarter, developing and emerging countries scaled back their foreign financing by 7.0 percent.
Rich nations invested $1.235 trillion abroad in 2011, up from $985 billion in 2010. The corresponding figure for developing nations last year was $357 billion, down from $383 billion in the previous year.
That decline was mainly due to a sharp drop in investments by Latin American and Caribbean companies, particularly Brazilian firms. Many businesses in the region brought back capital to benefit from higher interest rates at home. In Asia, Hong Kong logged the strongest decrease in investments, while outflows from China and India stagnated in 2011.
Data for the first quarter of the current year were described as a cause for concern for the United Nations' trade and development body.
"The fragility of Europe and the harsh fiscal austerity adopted by the continent's governments may hamper an FDI upturn," UNCTAD said in a statement on Thursday.
Preliminary figures for the first quarter show that the value of cross-border mergers and acquisitions dropped from $143 billion to $40 billion year-on-year, while greenfield investments fell from $270 billion to $159 billion.
hg/gb (dpa, epd)