Foreign direct investment in 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries totaled $82.65 billion in the first half of this year, up 54 percent from the same period in 2010, a U.N. panel says in a report released here Tuesday.

FDI in the region is on track to set "a new historic record" in 2011, according to the Santiago-based Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

"The current investment flows ratify the good performance of the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean, despite the scenario of economic turbulence," ECLAC's executive secretary, Alicia Barcena, said.

ECLAC attributes the growth in FDI to the stability and dynamism of most of the region's economies and to sustained rises in commodity prices, which spurs investments in mining and energy.

Among individual countries, Brazil - the region's economic giant - received $44 billion in FDI in the first six months of 2011, an increase of 157 percent over last year.

Colombia, meanwhile, saw FDI rise by 91 percent to nearly $7 billion, more than the oil-producing Andean nation received in all of 2010.

After suffering a net withdrawal of foreign investment last year, Venezuela garnered $1.18 billion in FDI in the Jan. 1-June 30 period, ECLAC said. 

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