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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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo, 2000. "Understanding china's economic performance," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1-50.
    2. repec:wsi:wschap:9789814569156_0009 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Barry Naughton, 1996. "China's Emergence and Prospects as a Trading Nation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(2), pages 273-344.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra, 1999. "Discrepancies in International Data: An Application to China-Hong Kong Entrepot Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 338-343, May.
    5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31.
    6. Brecher, Richard A. & Diaz Alejandro, Carlos F., 1977. "Tariffs, foreign capital and immiserizing growth," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 317-322, November.
    7. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    8. Gene Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1994. "Foreign Investment with Endogenous Protection," NBER Working Papers 4876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Steinfeld,Edward S., 1998. "Forging Reform in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521633352.
    10. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
    11. Shang-Jin Wei, 2000. "Why Does China Attract So Little Foreign Direct Investment?," NBER Chapters,in: The Role of Foreign Direct Investment in East Asian Economic Development, NBER-EASE Volume 9, pages 239-265 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoğlu, 2016. "“Protection For Sale” In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 9, pages 163-174 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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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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