Press release

5 Feb 2024 Beijing

EY releases the Overview of China outbound investment of 2023

BEIJING, 5 FEBRUARY 2024 — Today, EY Greater China region (hereafter EY) released the Overview of China outbound investment of 2023. The report highlights a 0.9% YOY growth in China’s overall ODI, reaching US$147.9 billion; non-financial ODI increased by 11.4%, showing rapid growth, with B&R partner countries outpacing the overall increase[1]. Additionally, Chinese enterprises announced a total overseas M&A value of US$39.8 billion, growing by 20.3% YOY. Notably, this marks three consecutive quarters of QOQ growth and accompanied by a significant increase in number of large transactions compared to the preceding year[2].

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Related topics COIN
  • China's overall outward direct investment (ODI) reached US$147.9 billion, marking a 0.9% year-on-year (YOY) increase. Non-financial ODI reached US$130.1 billion, up 11.4% YOY. Non-financial ODI in Belt and Road (B&R) partner countries totaled US$31.8 billion, up 22.6%.
  • Chinese enterprises announced a 20.3% YOY increase in overseas merger and acquisition (M&A) value, reaching US$39.8 billion, marking three consecutive quarters of quarter-over-quarter (QOQ) growth. Despite a decrease in number of deals to 457 (down 16.3% YOY), the presence of large transactions exceeding US$500 million notably rose. M&A activity in B&R partner countries surged by 32.4% YOY, outpacing the overall growth rate.
    • Sector-wise by deal value, TMT* and advanced manufacturing & mobility sectors dominated overseas M&As. The power & utilities sector was unique in witnessing growth in both deal value and volume.
    • Regionally, Asia remained the top M&A destination for Chinese enterprises for five consecutive years. North America, Oceania and Latin America experienced significant growth in deal value. However, all continents saw varying degrees of decline in deal volume.
  • Newly-signed China overseas engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects totaled US$264.5 billion, making a five-year high, up 4.5% YOY. The completed turnover reached US$160.9 billion, indicating a 3.8% YOY growth, with B&R partner countries contributing over 80%, and surpassed the overall growth rate.

*Note: The TMT sector refers to technology, media & entertainment and telecommunications

Today, EY Greater China region (hereafter EY) released the Overview of China outbound investment of 2023. The report highlights a 0.9% YOY growth in China’s overall ODI, reaching US$147.9 billion; non-financial ODI increased by 11.4%, showing rapid growth, with B&R partner countries outpacing the overall increase1. Additionally, Chinese enterprises announced a total overseas M&A value of US$39.8 billion, growing by 20.3% YOY. Notably, this marks three consecutive quarters of QOQ growth and accompanied by a significant increase in number of large transactions compared to the preceding year2.

Loletta Chow, Global Leader of EY China Overseas Investment Network (COIN), says: “In 2023, despite the complex global political and economic landscape, China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 5.2% YOY3, meeting its set targets. Throughout the year, China’s economic external circulation developed steadily and the commitment to multilateralism continued. The successful hosting of the first China-Central Asia Summit and the decade milestone of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the unveiling of eight Action Plans for future development, hold profound significance. The expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS further propelled win-win cooperation between China and developing countries. At present, Chinese enterprises have entered a new phase of global expansion, with China’s technology and brands accelerating expanding their presence overseas and delving into fresh growth opportunities. Simultaneously, China's industrial transformation aligns with global trends such as the digitalization, green economy, and reshaping of industrial value chain. Looking ahead to 2024, as the world enters a ‘super election year’, the global geopolitical landscape will face more challenges. However, China remains committed to its high-level policy of opening-up. Fueled by the strong drive for development among enterprises, it is anticipated that ‘going global’ will continue to be a key growth strategy for many Chinese companies.”

Non-financial ODI achieved rapid growth, with B&R partner countries surpassing the overall growth rate1

In 2023, China's overall ODI reached US$147.9 billion, up 0.9% YOY (in terms of RMB1,041.9 billion, up 5.7% YOY). Non-financial ODI amounted to US$130.1 billion, up 11.4% YOY (RMB917 billion, up 16.7% YOY). Specifically, non-financial ODI in B&R partner countries reached US$31.8 billion, up 22.6% (RMB224.1 billion, up 28.4% YOY), accounting for nearly a quarter of the total. According to State Administration of Foreign Exchange of China, RMB has depreciated by 4.55% in 2023 compared to the previous year4, leading to a relatively lower growth rate of ODI denominated in US dollars.

China overseas M&A values achieved consecutive QOQ growth for three quarters, significant increase in number of large transactions compared to the previous year2

In 2023, China announced a total overseas M&A value of US$39.8 billion, up 20.3% YOY and achieving consecutive QOQ growth for three quarters. Despite a decrease in deal volume to 457, down by 16.3% YOY, the year witnessed a substantial increase in large transactions. Specifically, there were 21 deals exceeding US$500 million, an increase of 13 deals compared to 2022. China’s M&A value in B&R partner countries reached US$17.3 billion, showing a YOY growth of 32.4%, surpassing the overall growth rate. Although deal volume decreased 2.6% YOY to 185, it was significantly smaller than the overall decline. Moreover, the proportion of M&A value in B&R partner countries increased by four percentage points compared to the same period last year, reaching 44%.

  • Sector analysis

In 2023, the top three sectors by deal value were TMT, advanced manufacturing & mobility and health care & life sciences, collectively constituting 53% of the total. Except for the financial services sector, other sectors experienced varying degrees of growth in deal value, with notable increases observed in the oil & gas and consumer products sectors. Regarding deal volume, the top sectors were TMT, advanced manufacturing & mobility and financial services, contributing to 55% of the total. Only the financial services and the power & utilities sector saw an increase in deal volume. The power & utilities sector was the sole sector achieving growth in both deal value and volume.

In B&R partner countries, Chinese M&A activities predominantly centered in advanced manufacturing & mobility, power & utilities and TMT sectors, collectively representing 62% of the total M&A value in B&R partner countries.

In 2023, China overseas M&A targets displayed clear regional distribution patterns across sectors. TMT and health & life science sectors dominated in North America and Europe. The power & utilities sector saw 84% of its deal value concentrated in Latin America, with nearly 60% of its overseas M&As occurring in the region over the past five years (2019-2023). Moreover, the oil & gas sector recorded its first large-scale transaction exceeding US$1.5 billion in the past five years, which was a Chinese acquisition of an oil refinery company in Pakistan.

  • Regional analysis
    • Asia: Chinese enterprises announced M&A deal value amounted to US$11.7 billion, down 10.2% YOY. Nevertheless, Asia maintains its position as the most popular destination for the fifth consecutive year. Singapore, Kazakhstan, South Korea and Indonesia secured spots among the top ten destinations for China overseas M&As in 2023. Sectors such as oil & gas, advanced manufacturing & mobility and consumer products experienced substantial YOY growth in Asia. The deal volume was 167, down 11.6% YOY, with the TMT sector leading in terms of volume, constituting nearly one-third of the total. Asia remains a focal point for China's foreign investment and cooperation. In 2023, China forged new relationships with 18 countries, including eight Asian countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, East Timor, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Palestine, Georgia and Syria5. Additionally, starting in 2024, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE officially joined the BRICS cooperation mechanism, further fostering bilateral and multilateral cooperation between China and other emerging Asian countries. Looking ahead to 2024, Asia is anticipated to sustain its position as a global growth leader. Economic growth rate of emerging and developing Asia was estimated at 5.2%, significantly surpassing the global average of 3.1%. India and the ASEAN-56 are projected to achieve growth rates of 6.5% and 4.7%7, respectively.
    • Europe: Chinese enterprises announced M&A deal value amounted to US$10.5 billion, down 6.7% YOY. The deal volume was 138, down 21.6% YOY. Primary sectors by deal value were TMT, advanced manufacturing & mobility and health care & life sciences. Key destinations included the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands, accounting for 83% of the total deal value. In this period, the largest announced M&A deal in Europe involved a Chinese enterprise securing exclusive overseas development and commercialization rights for a specific cancer treatment drug from a renowned British pharmaceutical company. Looking ahead to 2024, European economic growth faces multiple pressures; however, factors like slowing inflation and improving job markets may contribute to the region's robust purchasing power, which is an essential consideration for Chinese enterprises expanding internationally. Predictions suggest a European Union (EU) growth rate of 1.2% in 2024. Notably, Poland (2.8%), Switzerland (1.8%) and Spain (1.5%) are expected to outpace this average, while other countries such as Germany (0.5%), the UK (0.6%) and Italy (0.7%) are predicted to fall below the average growth rate of the EU7. Additionally, the results of the European Parliament elections in June will play a crucial role in shaping the future cooperation between China and Europe.
    • North America: Chinese enterprises announced M&A deal value reached US$9.9 billion, up 133% YOY. The significant growth was primarily influenced by a lower base in 2022. The investments were mainly directed towards the TMT sector (51% share) and the health care & life sciences (24% share) sector. The deal volume was 86, down 2.3% YOY. As the 2024 United States (US) presidential election introduces uncertainties in economic and foreign policies, Chinese enterprises are advised to maintain a cautious approach in their investment and operational strategies. The US is predicted to have an economic growth rate of 2.1% in 20247, lower than its 2.5% growth rate in 20238.
    • Oceania: Chinese enterprises announced M&A deal value reached US$3.5 billion, up 115.2% YOY. Mainly invested towards Australia's consumer products and mining & metals sectors, each accounting for about one-third of the total. Deal volume was 37, down 19.6% YOY. The warming relations between China and Australia in 2023 are anticipated to foster enhanced cooperation in areas such as climate change, new energy and green infrastructure. The economies of Australia and New Zealand are projected to grow by 1.4% and 1.0%, respectively, in 2024, continuing to trail behind the global average7.
    • Latin America: Chinese enterprises announced M&A deal value reached US$3.5 billion, up 82.2% YOY, mainly invested to Peru's power & utility sector. Deal volume was 19, down 42.4% YOY. In 2023, China-Latin America relations experienced steady development, with China improving ties with Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay and Nicaragua. By the end of 2023, China successfully attracted 22 Latin American countries to join the BRI9. Looking ahead, cooperation between China and Latin America cooperation is poised to expand further in areas such as infrastructure, energy and social welfare. The predicted overall economic growth for Latin American in 2024 is 1.9%7.
    • Africa: The announced M&A deal value by Chinese enterprises was US$730 million, down 30.1% YOY, with deal volume at 10, down 28.6% YOY. Egypt was the most popular M&A destination. Forecasts indicate that in 2024, economic growth in major African countries, such as Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa, Ethiopia and Tanzania in East Africa, will exceed 6%, driving Africa's growth7.

The value of newly-signed EPC projects hit a five-year high, with over 86% attributed to B&R partner countries1

In 2023, the value of newly-signed China overseas EPC projects reached US$264.5 billion, up 4.5% YOY. New contracts in B&R partner countries totaled US$227.2 billion, up 5.7% YOY, comprising 86% of the total. 

The completed turnover of overseas EPC projects by Chinese enterprises was US$160.9 billion, up 3.8% YOY. The completed turnover in B&R partner countries reached US$132.1 billion, up 4.8% YOY, comprising 82% of the total.

  1. Source: China MOFCOM, EY analysis
  2. Sources: Refinitiv; Mergermarket, including data from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and deals that have been announced but not yet completed, data was downloaded on 8 January 2024; EY analysis
  3. Source: National Bureau of Statistics of China
  4. Source: State Administration of Foreign Exchange of China, EY analysis; in 2023 and 2022, the average exchange rate between RMB and USD was 7.0467 and 6.7261, respectively.
  5. Source: Xinhua News Agency
  6. Note: ASEAN-5 includes Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore
  7. Source: World Economic Outlook, IMF, Jan 2024; some countries’ economic growth rate was forecasted value of Oct 2023.
  8. Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
  9. Source: Belt and Road Portal (


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About COIN
The China Overseas Investment Network (COIN) connects EY professionals around the globe, facilitates cooperation and provides consistent and coordinated services to the Chinese clients to make outbound investments. Building on the existing China Business Group in the Americas, EMEIA, and Asia-Pacific areas, COIN has expanded its network to over 70 countries and territories around the world. COIN is part of the EY commitment to provide seamless and high-quality client services to assist Chinese companies in going global and doing business overseas. The EY global organization with strong local experience and deep industry knowledge enables faster responses and professional services for the clients.


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