Sapa-AFP Beijing

FOREIGN direct investment (FDI) into China dropped by more than a sixth last month from a year earlier to a two-year low, the government said yesterday, but denied any link to its multiple probes into foreign companies.

FDI, which excludes investment in financial sectors, fell 16.95 percent in July to $7.81 billion (R82.7bn), the commerce ministry said, its lowest since July 2012, when it was $7.58bn. The fall saw FDI in the first seven months decline 0.35 percent to $71.14bn, eliminating a small increase at the half-year stage.

Chinese authorities have in recent months launched anti-monopoly, price-fixing and other inquiries into foreign firms in sectors ranging from car manufacturing and pharmaceuticals to baby milk. The probes have raised concerns among investors.

But commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang denied any connection between the inquiries and the FDI fall.

“It is only normal that there is volatility of FDI in individual months when China steps up efforts to balance the economic structure.

“It must not be linked to the anti-monopoly probes into some foreign-invested companies or be associated with other baseless speculations.”