UNCTAD says FDI to slow this year after 2007 record high

( dpa ) - The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said Wednesday that 2007 was a record year for the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) but warned against a drop by at least 10 per cent in 2008.

In its World Investment Report 2008, released Wednesday in Cairo, the UN agency said that crisis in world financial markets and the economic slowdown will lead to the decline of FDI flows in 2008, after last year's 30-per-cent surge.

Total inflows of FDI reached 1.833 trillion US dollars in 2007, with the US as the top recipient at 233 billion dollars, followed by Britain at 224 billion dollars. China was in sixth place at 84 billion dollars.

"China and Hong Kong got around 27 per cent of the FDI directed to developing countries," said Magda Shaheen, assistant to Egypt's foreign minister.

"Along with those two countries, Brazil, India and Mexico got the lion's share of the 500 billion dollars," Shaheen told reporters during the launch of the report, which was issued Wednesday in 16 capitals worldwide.

With 53 billion dollars going to Africa, Egypt was in second place in the continent after Nigeria.

Egypt topped the North African region with 12 billion dollars, or half of the total in the region. Egypt was third among Arab states, following Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"Saudi Arabia and the UAE came first because of the huge investments in energy sector, which is available in competitive prices, and the construction sector," said Assem Ragab, head of Egypt's General Authority for Investments and Free Zones.

Sovereign wealth funds are increasingly putting their money into FDI, yet mostly into developed countries, which accounted for 73 per cent of their investment over the last two decades.

Most of the remainder was invested in Asia, mainly in services, the report said.

"The sovereign funds are the new players which will be relied on to balance the expected decline in the FDI," Ragab said.

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