Year-to-date net FDI fall eases further as September inflows spike

December 14, 2015 at 13:57

Year-to-date net FDI fall eases further as September inflows pike

NET inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) — a key source of jobs and capital for the local economy — more than doubled in September to hit “a record high” and narrow a year-to-date annual drop, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Friday, but even that was not enough to catch up with investments that went to neighboring countries.

Net FDI inflows to the Philippines surged to $1.519 billion in September from the $680 million recorded in last year’s comparable month.

September’s all-time-high figure was largely due to the “notable increase in non-residents’ investments in equity capital and debt instruments issued by their local subsidiaries/affiliates”, the BSP said in a statement on Friday.

Equity capital investments that month surged nearly fourfold to $600 million from $161 million, as gross placements of $1.152 billion offset withdrawals of $553 million. “The bulk of equity capital placements came from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, the United States, and Germany,” the statement read. “By economic activity, equity capital investments were channeled mainly to manufacturing; financial and insurance; construction; wholesale and retail trade; and real estate activities.”

Lending by foreign firms to their Philippine subsidiaries and affiliates increased by 89.7% to $869 million from $458 million, driven particularly by such borrowings in the construction as well as transportation and storage sectors.

But reinvested earnings declined by 17.1% to $51 million from $61 million.

“The surge in FDI inflows in September… reflects investor confidence in the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals,” BSP said, citing “sustained GDP (gross domestic product) growth… manageable inflation, consistent build-up of foreign exchange reserves, and stable exchange rate”.

Despite the month’s surge, however, the first nine months’ $4.537-billion net FDI inflow was still 5.5% below the $4.802 billion logged in 2014’s comparable period. But that was an improvement from the January-August print of $3.004 billion which lagged behind the $4.122 billion seen a year ago by more than a fourth.

Bulk of the year-to-date inflows came from the the United States ($699.45 million), Japan ($366.51 million), United Kingdom ($365.92 million), the Netherlands ($254.04 million), and Singapore ($110.71 million), central bank data showed. The investments were poured into construction, manufacturing, real estate, financial and insurance, as well as wholesale and retail trade.

For 2015, the central bank expects net FDI inflows to reach $6 billion. Last year, net FDI to the Philippines breached an all-time high of $6.2 billion, 65.9% higher than the $3.737 billion tallied in 2013.

The Philippines continues to lag behind its Southeast Asian peers in this regard. Latest available central bank data show that, in the first half alone, Malaysia got $6.158 billion; Indonesia, $12.505 billion; Thailand, $9.435 billion; Singapore, $31.607 billion; and Vietnam, $4.850 billion.

Reuters reported that Vietnam’s net FDI inflows stood at $17.15 billion for the first nine months, up 53.4% annually and nearly fourfold more than the Philippine haul for the same period. — Melissa Luz T. Lopez

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