Japanese industry put down roots in Britain in 1972, with the arrival of YKK Fasteners, but it was the mid-Eighties before their interest blossomed. There are more than 200 Japanese-owned factories in the UK, and the big three car-makers - Nissan, Honda and Toyota - have invested pounds 3bn in the UK since Nissan built its plant for 3,200 employees in Tyne and Wear in 1984.

European companies have been investing in the UK for more than 100 years, but the most significant recent developments have been the opening of the French car-maker Peugeot's factory in Coventry, and last year's promise by Siemens of Germany of a pounds 1.1bn semiconductor plant on Tyneside, creating 2,000 jobs.

The Americans have also been setting up in the UK since the beginning of the century, culminating in the successful expansion into Britain of names such as Time Warner, Walt Disney, The Gap, Toys 'R' Us and Blockbuster Video.

The Koreans are making the loudest noise, however. The first significant Korean investment in the UK was made by Samsung in 1986, when it created 300 jobs with a pounds 17m television plant in Cleveland; two years later, Daewoo put pounds 18m into a 450-man video recorder factory in Northern Ireland. In 1994, Samsung made a deal to plough pounds 450m into a new plant on Teesside, and this week LG (the Lucky Goldstar group) announced it would be investing pounds 1bn in a site in South Wales, creating 4,000 jobs.

The Invest in Britain Bureau, the arm of the DTI that is in charge of attracting international capital to Britain, carries out regular surveys of the most likely sources of inward investment. The UK now accounts for 40 per cent of Japanese investment, and a third of all inward investment in Europe. Last year, says the Bureau, this amounted to pounds 19bn worth of investment in the UK economy, and accounted for 750,000 jobs.