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Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in China: A Political Economy Approach

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  • Lee G. Branstetter
  • Robert C. Feenstra

Abstract

We view the political process in China as trading off the social benefits of increased trade and foreign direct investment, against the losses incurred by state-owned enterprises due to such liberalization. A model drawing on Grossman and Helpman (1994, 1996) is used to derive an empirically estimable government objective function. The key structural parameters of this model are estimated using province-level data on foreign direct investment and trade flows in China, over the years 1984-1995. We find that the weight applied to consumer welfare is between one-fifth and one-twelfth of the weight applied to the output of state-owned enterprises. We find that governmental preferences have shifted over time, but even in recent periods the weight on consumer welfare is only one-half of the weight on state-owned enterprises. This suggests that China may find it politically difficult to follow through with liberalizing its trade and investment regimes, such as under its WTO accession proposal.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee G. Branstetter & Robert C. Feenstra, 1999. "Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in China: A Political Economy Approach," NBER Working Papers 7100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7100
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements

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