SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) — Foreign direct investment (FDI) pledges to South Korea shot up 44.6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, data showed Monday, as investors gradually resumed their business activities amid signs of the recovery in the global economy.

Asia’s No. 4 economy received US$4.74 billion worth of FDI commitments in the January-March period, compared with $3.28 billion logged a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The amount of investment that actually arrived in South Korea also shot up 42.8 percent to $4.27 billion to reach a new quarterly high.

“Investment that was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been gradually put back on track led by merger and acquisition projects,” the ministry said in a statement.

The combined amount of FDI pledges to South Korea dipped 11.1 percent on-year in 2020 to $20.7 billion.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates that the combined volume of global FDI dropped a whopping 42 percent to $859 billion and suggested the volume may fall up to 10 percent in 2021.

“Despite the outlook that the global FDI will continue to lose ground throughout this year, South Korea has shown a prompt recovery in the first quarter, paving the way for an early recovery from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

By industry, the manufacturing segment garnered FDI pledges worth $450 million, down 28 percent on-year. The decrease came as the electronics and chemical businesses won less investment, although the gains from the machinery segment limited the overall decrease.

The service sector, on the other hand, saw its FDI pledges jump 57 percent to $4.16 billion, led by the telecommunication and retail businesses.

By investor, the United States pledged to make $230 million worth of investment in the first quarter, down 40 percent on-year. U.S. firms slashed their investment pledges in the service sector by 62.6 percent.

The European Union and Britain, on the other hand, pledged to make an investment worth $3.1 billion, up fourfold from the previous year. Those from Japan climbed 91.4 percent over the period as well to reach $240 million.

FDI pledges from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia came to $860 million, down 41.2 percent on-year.

For the remaining 2021, the ministry said South Korea may find more opportunities in merger and acquisition projects as companies are revamping their business portfolios to brace for the post-pandemic market.