SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Wednesday it will expand support for foreign firms operating in the country to promote investment amid the pandemic, especially in the digital and green sectors in line with the country’s mega investment project, the New Deal initiative.

“Despite the challenges from COVID-19, foreign investors have been expanding their presence in emerging areas including chips, biotechnology, eco-friendly cars and rechargeable batteries,” Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said in a message to the Korea Foreign Company Association (FORCA).

Yoo also pointed out that foreign firms accounted for 5.6 percent of local employment, along with 18.6 percent of exports in 2020.

Overall foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges to South Korea dipped 11 percent in 2020 from a year earlier as the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a harsh blow to business activities around the globe.

Asia’s No. 4 economy received US$20.7 billion worth of FDI commitments last year, compared with $23.3 billion logged in 2019.

It still marked the sixth consecutive year that FDI pledges to South Korea hovered above the $20 billion threshold.

Throughout this year, South Korea plans to provide more business opportunities to foreign companies in sync with the New Deal initiative.

The New Deal drive, announced last year, consists of four pillars — the Digital New Deal, the Green New Deal, the strengthening of the job and social safety net and balanced regional development.

The country plans to announce the detailed blueprint on promoting FDI in March.