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China Overtook U.S. in Foreign Direct Investment, UN Agency Says

  • As global flows faltered, U.S. and Europe lost, China gained
  • Effects of coronavirus pandemic likely to linger in 2021
Office Workers in Shanghai as Premier Says Most of China Is Returning to Normal
Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China overtook the U.S. as the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020, a year in which overall global flows cratered by 42% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a United Nations trade agency said.

Flows fell to an estimated $859 billion from $1.5 trillion in 2019, according to the UNCTAD Investment Trends Monitor. It was the lowest level since the 1990s and 30% below the investment trough that followed the 2008-09 global financial crisis.