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The Dragon is Flying West: Micro-Level Evidence of Chinese Outward Direct Investment

Wenjie Chen and Heiwai Tang
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Wenjie Chen: George Washington University

Working Papers from Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research

Abstract: Outward direct investment (ODI) from the People's Republic of China (PRC) is surging. A common perception is that it was driven by the country's resource and technology-seeking motives. Using a new, unique, and comprehensive data set that covers close to 10000 Chinese ODI deals from 1998 to 2009, we find that in contrast to the common perception, over half of the ODI deals are in service sectors, with many of them appearing to be export-related. In addition to documenting the pattern and trend of the PRC's ODI, we empirically examine both the determinants and effects of ODI at the firm level. We find that ex ante larger, more productive, and more export-intensive firms are more likely to start investing abroad. Using matching estimation techniques, we find that ODI is associated with better firm performance, including higher total factor productivity, higher employment, higher export intensity, and more product innovation. To assess the relative contributions of technology transfer, export promotion, and resource seeking to the positive effects of ODI, we use ODI data merged with customs transaction-level trade data. We find that firms' ODI participation is associated with significantly better trade performance, measured by export and import volume, export and import unit values, and number of export destinations. In contrast with the technology- and resource-seeking motives, we find no evidence that ODI firms import more capital or intermediate inputs, compared to non-ODI firms.

Pages: 33 pages
Date: 2014-06
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