Cross-border investment activity continued to grow in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic, albeit at a slower rate, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
The national statistical agency reported that foreign direct investment grew by 2.7% last year to $1.05 trillion, and Canadian investment abroad rose 4.2% to $1.47 trillion.
“Foreign direct investment activity slowed considerably in Canada and globally in 2020 amid upheavals caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” StatsCan said in a release.
Overall, the stock of foreign direct investment in Canada increased by $28.0 billion last year.
StatsCan said that the professional, scientific and technical services industry saw the largest growth (up by $12.8 billion), whereas the mining and oil and gas extraction industry saw the biggest decline (down by $11.4 billion), “reflecting a divestment in this sector over the year.”
Canadian investment abroad increased by $59.6 billion last year, led by the financial sector (which includes banks, pension funds and insurance companies), which accounted for $26.5 billion.
“At the end of 2020, more than one-third of the stock of Canadian direct investment abroad, as measured by the industry of the foreign affiliate, was in the finance and insurance industry,” StatsCan said.
The agency also noted that the growth in services industries has “steadily outpaced” the growth in goods-producing industries over the past five years.
“As a result, the share of Canadian direct investment abroad in services industries has risen from 71.6% in 2015 to 75.6% in 2020,” StatsCan said. “For foreign direct investment in Canada, this share has grown from 54.4% in 2015 to 61.1% in 2020.”
The U.S. is the primary destination of Canadian direct investment, followed by the U.K. and Luxembourg. Together, they account for 60.5% of total foreign investment.
The world’s primary foreign investor is the U.S., followed by the Netherlands and the U.K. Together, these countries accounted for 64.4% of total foreign direct investment in Canada.
In 2020, Europe led the increase in foreign direct investment in Canada due to M&A activity between the regions, StatsCan noted.