SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- New foreign direct investment (FDI) pledged to South Korea hit a record high last year on the back of interest in the advanced technology and manufacturing sectors despite military tensions with North Korea, the trade ministry said Wednesday.
South Korea received US$22.94 billion worth of FDI commitments in 2017, rising 7.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The amount surpassed the $20 billion mark for three consecutive years.
Foreign investors promised $9.36 billion in the October-December period alone which is the largest quarterly number ever, mainly in the IT and petrochemical sectors.
The amount of actual investments made by foreign investors and companies jumped 20.9 percent on-year to $12.82 billion over the cited period, the ministry said.
"South Korea was evaluated as a stable investment destination despite the North Korean nuclear crisis," the ministry said in a release. "Investment in the manufacturing industry related to the fourth industrial revolution and the industrial structure modernization greatly increased last year."
North Korea conducted a series of nuclear and missile tests last year, which heightened tensions with South Korea and drew strong condemnation from the international community.
Investment pledges from the United States gained 21.5 percent to $4.71 billion last year thanks to IT and electronics parts, and those from Japan soared 48.5 percent to $1.84 billion led by metal and real estate sectors.
In contrast, FDI pledges from European Union countries decreased 4.5 percent to $7.06 billion due to uncertainties surrounding Britain's exit from the 28-nation bloc, and those from China tumbled 60.5 percent to $801 million on tougher regulations on overseas investment.
Start-up companies in the mobile platform, big data and network solutions attracted money from abroad as more investors were looking for ways to step up collaboration with innovators in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
In the manufacturing sector, foreign investors sought to invest in refinery production facilities as well as renewable batteries and censors for autonomous vehicles.
"FDI is expected to maintain the upward trend reflecting the current trend and promising projects," the ministry said. "The impact from the interest rate hike and the corporate tax cut in the U.S. as well as geopolitical tension on the other hand remain potential uncertainties."
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