The Guangdong provincial government has brought forward the date of its trade fair in Hong Kong by three months in an effort to turn around slumping foreign investment. Guangdong deputy secretary-general Chen Jian said there was a drop in actual foreign investment to US$3.57 billion in the first four months of this year. Mr Chen did not give the comparative figure but records showed investment for the corresponding period last year was $4.68 billion, implying a fall of 23.71 per cent. Mr Chen said there were difficulties in wooing foreign investors. 'It's mainly because of the [Asian] financial crisis and the slowing international economies and not only because of the [collapse of] Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corp,' he said. Guangdong has set a minimum target of actual foreign investment of $13 billion for this year, with the hope of matching last year's $15.09 billion. The mainland reported a 14.61 per cent first quarter decline in actual foreign investment to $7.34 billion. Mr Chen said the anti-American protests that had erupted after the Nato strike on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade would not affect foreign investment. He said it would continue to flow in as long as there were profitable businesses in the mainland. Mr Chen was speaking at a press conference on the trade fair, to be held from next Tuesday to Friday. He dismissed as 'sheer fabrication' press reports suggesting Guangdong executive vice-governor Wang Qishan would be replaced to take responsibility for unsatisfactory progress in the restructuring of the province's insolvent Hong Kong investment arm, Guangdong Enterprises (Holdings) (GDE). He said the GDE restructuring plan had taken time and was gradually falling into place.