Protectionsm in West may push Chinese investors elsewhere-bank chief

Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:52am EST
 
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By Lucy Hornby

BEIJING Nov 13 (Reuters) - Chinese firms wanting to invest overseas are likely to turn more to developing countries in the face of rising protectionism in the West, the head of one of the country's biggest banks funding overseas development said on Thursday.

China, which often says its companies face barriers in investing in the West, is currently awaiting a Canadian ruling on state-owned CNOOC Ltd's $15.1 billion bid to buy Nexen Inc.. Canada has delayed its decision twice.

"We can expect that in the near future, the trend of slow growth and high unemployment in some economies won't change, resulting in added layers of protectionism against Chinese companies and rendering their "going out" more difficult," Li Ruogu, president of the Export-Import Bank of China, said in a written response to Reuters questions.

Ex-Im Bank is one of the main source of loans for Chinese firms, particularly state-owned firms, investing abroad.

China's response will be to diversify markets and broaden trade and investment ties with developing countries, he wrote.

That strategy would run counter to the trend of the few years since the global financial crisis, when Chinese firms shifted their focus from resource or infrastructure investments in Africa, Australia, Asia and Latin America to buying corporate stakes in mature markets, particularly Europe.

China is still more of an investment destination than a source of funds, but that is changing. Ministry of Commerce figures show China attracted almost twice as much foreign investment as it made in 2011.

The Ministry's calculations show inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) rose 9.7 percent last year. Outbound non-financial FDI grew just 1.8 percent in 2011, but improved considerably in 2012, rising nearly 29 percent on year in the first nine months to total $52.5 billion.   Continued...