UK 'the number one destination in Europe for investment'

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The UK enjoyed record breaking inward investment from foreign companies over the past financial year, Liam Fox has announced.

But the figures are taken from the past financial year and paint a picture of investment before the vote for Brexit.

The British Chambers of Commerce stressed Britain must welcome investors as it navigates new financial waters following the historic vote.

Mr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said the figures cement Britain's position as the "number one destination in Europe for investment".

The new figures show that 2,213 inward investment projects were secured in 2015-16 - an 11% increase on the previous year.

This led to around 116,000 jobs being created or safeguarded - the second highest number on record, the Department for International Trade said.

Almost 1,600 new jobs a week were created by foreign direct investment in 2015-16 with the Department for International Trade helping to secure four out of five of the projects that created these jobs, it added.

And since 2010, nearly 390,000 new jobs have been created through foreign direct investment in the UK.

The USA remained the UK's largest source of inward investment providing 570 projects, followed by China - including Hong Kong - with 156 and India with 140.

A record 79 countries invested in the UK, which became the top European destination for projects from emerging markets. Projects from Latin America rose by 240% and those from Central and Eastern Europe surged by 131%, the department said.

Mr Fox said: "These impressive results show the UK continues to be the place to do business.

"We've broadened our reach with emerging markets across the world to cement our position as the number one destination in Europe for investment.

"This continued vote of confidence in the UK will help attract foreign investment to create jobs, security and opportunities for people across the UK."

Dr Adam Marshall, acting director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Keeping the UK attractive to overseas investors is important for our future success. Last year's up-tick in foreign direct investment is a welcome boost to business, and a good indicator of underlying confidence in the UK economy.

"As Britain approaches a time of economic change, we must continue to welcome investors that are willing to make a sustained, long-term commitment all across the country."

The department said 14,797 new jobs were created in the Midlands - a rise of 9% from the year before.

The North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber all saw rises in foreign direct investment projects of 118%, 83% and 66% respectively.

While in Wales, 5,443 new jobs were created - an increase of 7% from the previous year - through 97 projects. In total, almost 7,000 jobs were created or safeguarded by FDI

Northern Ireland secured 33 projects, which created and safeguarded a total of 3,144 jobs, while Scotland attracted 108 projects, with 5,905 jobs created or safeguarded, the Government said.

Foreign investment interest in the UK has held up since June 23, with sectors such as commercial property, healthcare and retail seeing similar levels of inflows as before the vote.

But experts believe the continued activity is largely due to the collapse in the pound since June 23.

And they have warned Chinese investment into the UK has been put at risk following the Government's decision to delay the nuclear power project at Hinkley Point.

Demand for prime residential property in central London from foreign buyers has also waned in recent months.