Vietnam's foreign direct investment (FDI) plummeted during the first four months of the year with only 4 billionUSD earmarked by investors from abroad, down 47.8 percent against the same period last year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency.

Up to 262 new foreign-invested projects, capitalised at 3.2 billion USD, were licensed from January to April, an annual decrease of 54.9 percent.

FDI disbursement, an important factor to evaluate the efficiency of investment inflows, however, still increased nearly 1 percent, reaching 3.62 billion USD during the period.

In another bright spot, 88 existing projects registered an increase in their levels of capital by a total of 819 million USD during the four months, up 36.8 percent year-on-year.

Vietnam 's leading sources of foreign investment include Singapore , Hong Kong , Malaysia , the Republic of Korea and Japan , with Japanese companies still registering 55 new projects in Vietnam despite the devastating impact of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

During the period, the processing and manufacturing sector remained the leader in attracting FDI, accounting for 2 billion USD of the first quarter total. In addition, 75 operating projects in the sector were allowed to raise capital by a total of 455.3 million USD.

With more than 1.1 billion USD coming to 58 new and seven expanded projects, HCM City continued to be the most attractive destination in the eyes of foreign investors. It was followed by Hanoi with 79 projects, worth a combined 430 million USD.

The foreign-invested sector saw an estimated four-month export turnover of 15.19 billion USD, up 37 percent year-on-year. The sector also posted an export surplus of 1.3 billion USD.

Earlier, the agency forecast new registered FDI would likely reach about 20 billion USD this year and over half of that sum would be implemented. Top priority would be given to projects in infrastructure construction, hi-tech and support industries./.