According to fDi Markets, this year China has invested $5.38bn in the automotive sector compared to $1.64bn last year. There have been 19 outward investments in 2009, creating a total of 26,273 jobs. Last year there were 16 new projects creating 12,810 jobs.

One significant example has been the highly successful Chinese automotive manufacturer Chery Automobile. The company plans to boost foreign production of its cars by opening six new assembly plants in countries including Syria, Taiwan, Thailand and Venezuela. In August, the company announced the launch of business operations in Brazil, where it plans to open more than 50 dealerships by the end of this year; the company has so far introduced its line of cars in more than 60 countries.

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Another large investment has been by Chang’an Auto, reportedly investing $80m in South Africa to create a production plant and financing company over the next few years, while JAC Motors has stated its intention to start a manufacturing base in Brazil.In terms of inward investment, a recently launched report states that China has been billed as the most attractive destination for foreign investment, beating both western and eastern Europe. The Ernst & Young European Attractiveness Survey, released at the World Investment Conference in August, also found that the geo­graphical spread of preferred investment destinations has become more balanced.

The report suggests, however, that investor opinion was not being backed up in terms of actual investments. While 41% of executives polled singled out China as the most attractive place for investment, less than 8% of global FDI actually flows into the country, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Western Europe receives 37% of global FDI inflows, but only 33% of respondents to the survey ranked it as a top investment destination.

Three major companies seriously considering investment in China are LG Display, the world’s second largest panel maker and car manufacturers Saab and Audi.

LG Display, the South Korean manufacturer, plans to invest in a $4m plant in Guangzhou that will be the company’s first manufacturing venture in China.

Saab, the General Motors brand being sold off to Swedish and Chinese investors, is also considering manufacturing its cars in China. “It is too early to say, but if you want to be a serious player in China, you need production,” Jan Ake Jonsson, Saab’s managing director, told the Financial Times. Audi plans to build a $146m plant in China’s north-eastern city of Changchun, with the new factory expected to double the production capacity in the country to 200,000 cars a year.

Ginanne Brownell