Regional Integration and Third-Country Inward Investment
The paper focuses on how the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which will include both high-income developed and developing countries, will affect the options and investment strategies of multinational firms outside the region. Preliminary sections discuss the strategies open to both insider firms (headquartered with the Americas) and outsider firms, and the characteristics of technologies and countries that determine equilibrium location choices. Then I turn more explicitly to the question at hand, and suggest that a free-trade area of the Americas can be conceptually decomposed into (a) integration among the southern developing countries and (b) integration between the south and NAFTA. The first will give third-country multinationals horizontal investment opportunities to serve the effectively larger southern market with local production to serve the local southern market. The second gives third-country multinationals the opportunity to exploit low labor costs in the south to produce for export to North America (export-platform FDI). While this all sounds attractive for third-country firms, the theory emphasizes that the same advantages of integration are conferred upon U.S. and Canadian firms who have the additional advantage of supplying services and intermediate goods to southern affiliates at lower cost than the third country firms. This competitive effect from insider firms leads the theory to suggest weaker benefits to third-country firms than a simpler approach might predict.
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