Foreign direct investment in a macroeconomic framework : finance, efficiency, incentives, and distortions
Does foreign direct investment (FDI) increase domestic investment, or does it provide additional foreign exchange for a pre-existing current account deficit, or some linear combination of the two? The author investigates this question for a group of five Pacific Basin countries and a control group of 11 other developing countries. For the sample of all 16 developing countries, the author finds that FDI does not provide additional balance of payments financing for a pre-existing current account deficit. In the control group of 11 developing countries, FDI is associated with reduced domestic investment - implying that FDI to those countries is simply a close substitute for other capital inflows. For the five Pacific Basin market economies, however, FDI raises domestic investment by the full extent of the FDI inflow. The author finds that FDI has a significantly negative impact on national saving in the sample of all 16 developing countries. For the control group, this negative effect is similar in magnitude to FDI's negative effect on domestic investment - implying a zero effect on the current account. But FDI's negative effect on national saving in the five Pacific Basin developing market economies implies that FDI could have more of a negative effect on the current account than through increased domestic investment alone. The author also investigates the impact of FDI on economic growth in these 16 countries, taking into account distortions in the economies. He estimates reduced-form current account equations, and presents an analytical framework for estimating FDI's effect on economic growth in the presence of incentive-disincentive packages and other economic distortions. He illustrates his framework using indicators of foreign trade and financial distortions. His main conclusion: the effect of FDI differs markedly from one group of countries to another. FDI has a negative effect on economic growth in the control group. It has the same positive effect on growth as domestically financed investment does in the Pacific Basin countries. The main cause for the different effect is the low level of distortion in the Pacific Basin countries.
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