Disbursement of foreign direct investment (FDI) increased 7 percent to end at 3.05 billion USD in the first quarter of the year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency.

The amount attracted compared to last year fell significantly however. As of March 20, the country licensed more than 1.83 billion USD in FDI, equivalent to just 55.1 percent of the same period in 2014. Of the total, 1.21 billion USD was poured into 267 newly licensed projects and the remainder was added to 102 operating projects.

The agency's newest report noted that the first quarter saw newly-registered FDI drop by 40.6 percent, while the amount of capital added to existing projects fell by 51.8 percent.

Manufacturing and processing remained the most attractive sector to foreign investors during the period, as it absorbed 1.4 billion USD, accounting for 76.6 percent of the total capital registered in the country. Estate trading ranked second, luring approximately 202 million USD, and the wholesale and retail industry came third, attracting 123.4 million USD.

From January to March, the Republic of Korea surpassed 32 countries and territories to become Vietnam's leading source of FDI with 491 million USD. It was followed by the British Virgin Islands (351.6 million USD) and Japan (294.4 million USD).

The southern economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City attracted the largest share of FDI with 540.2 million USD, following by the northern port city of Hai Phong with 235.2 million USD and the southern province of Binh Duong with 140 million USD.

According to the agency, the foreign-invested sector recorded a trade surplus of 1.98 billion USD in the first quarter of this year. It exported 25.08 billion USD in goods, up 12.9 percent year-on-year, while its imports saw an annual rise of 24 percent to 23.09 billion USD.-VNA