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How Effective Is Tax Policy in Attracting Foreign Direct Investments in Transition Countries?

Sabina Silajdzic and Eldin Mehic

Central European Business Review, 2022, vol. 2022, issue 1, 19-39

Abstract: Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) has been considered an important source of economic growth and technological development in transition economies. The previous empirical literature has shown that FDI promote economic growth via complementary effects on domestic investments, increases in productivity and overall economic efficiency, giving rise to an increasing interest in understanding the key determinants of FDI. Apart from traditional FDI determinants, favourable tax policy has been considered an important factor influencing MNCs' location decisions. The goal of this paper is to investigate the impact of corporate income tax on FDI in the context of less advanced transition economies and to analyse whether the tax effect is conditional on the level of economic development. A small number of studies exist analysing the importance of tax policy regime in attracting FDI covering South-East European countries. In this study, we rely on panel gravity econometric framework and examine the impact of tax policy on FDI using bilateral FDI flows between 8 home and 8 South East Europe host countries in the period 2000-2018. We estimate the regression using Prais-Winsten correlated panels corrected standard errors PSCE method to obtain robust estimates of individual effects in the presence of heteroscedasticity and serial correlation. The seven SEE host countries included in the sample are considered of similar economic structures and institutional transformation, which seems important in analysing tax policy effectiveness and minimising biases associated with econometric modelling of FDI determinants. Finally, we study this relationship in an integrated framework considering traditional gravity forces as well as a number of additional FDI determinants, including institutional factors. We show that, although tax policy seems an important determinant of FDI, its effects seem to be conditional on the level of technological development. Given these findings, reducing corporate income tax may be considered an effective tool in promoting FDI, which seems to be of particular importance for less developed transition economies. The results are robust to different model specifications and consideration of endogeneity.Implications for Central European audience: The direct implications of this research for business policymakers in CEE include the need to revise and optimise the levels of corporate income tax and incorporate this specific policy instrument in FDI strategies. In particular, the results of this research indicate that tax cuts have been more effective in attracting FDI in countries that are at a lower level of technological sophistication. The managers could seek to size the investment opportunity related to possible further corporate income tax cuts in the group of least developed CEE amid the economic rationale for tax policy competition among these countries.

Keywords: FDI; corporate income tax; tax incentives; gravity model; transition economies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 E62 F21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Faculty of Business Administration, University of Economics, Prague

DOI: 10.18267/j.cebr.274

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