South Korea's overseas direct investment rose 5.2% on-year in the first quarter, fueled by local businesses' efforts to strengthen their presence in the United States and Europe, government data showed Tuesday.
South Korean companies invested US$7.72 billion abroad in the January-March period, compared with $7.34 billion a year earlier, according to the data by the finance ministry. The figure, however, is smaller than the $11.9 billion invested abroad in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to South Korea's (Yonhap) News Agency.
The ministry expected the nation's overseas direct investment to switch to an upturn for all of 2015 for the first time in four years. Overseas investment started falling in 2011 and stood at $35.07 billion last year, down 1.5% from the year before.
In the first quarter, investment in retail and wholesale sectors surged 320.5% on-year, with financial and insurance-related expenditures jumping 108.7%.
Money poured into manufacturing also rose 5.9% on-year, while those for mining and real estate and property dropped 47.3% and 51%, respectively.
Investment in North America, including the United States, shot up 46.1% on-year to $3.02 billion, and that for Europe rose 19.5%. Investments in Asia and Latin America were down 34.1% and 12.3% each.
South Korean investment in China fell 36.5% on-year to $510 million, with that for Vietnam dropping 26.1%.
"Despite slowing growth in China and concerns surrounding the Greece debt problem, overseas direct investment will likely grow in 2015 from last year thanks mainly to steady global economic growth," the ministry said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted global economic growth will reach 3.5% this year, up from 3.4% in 2014. For 2016, the IMF said 3.8% growth may be possible.
In regards to global investment, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development forecast worldwide investment to rise 8% on-year to $1.75 trillion in 2015.