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Global Capital Flows and the Environment in the 21st Century

David O’Connor

No 161, OECD Development Centre Working Papers from OECD Publishing

Abstract: Both the magnitude and the composition of capital flows from rich to poor countries have changed markedly over the past decade. While official flows have stagnated, private flows have mushroomed and portfolio investment and bank lending have grown more rapidly than foreign direct investment (FDI), though with much higher volatility. Given the impact of investment decisions on patterns of resource use (including the environment), what are the implications of these trends?A bricks–and–mortar investment by a multinational corporation (MNC) requires consideration of environmental impacts in a way that neither a bank loan nor portfolio investment does. The evidence suggests that foreign direct investment (FDI), especially by large MNCs, is not concentrated in “dirty” industries, and where it does go into such sectors environmental performance of MNCs is usually above local standards. For smaller OECD investors, reliance on public–sector investment guarantee and insurance agencies can ... Au cours de la dernière décennie, l’ampleur des mouvements de capitaux des pays riches vers les pays pauvres, de même que leur composition, se sont profondément modifiées. Tandis que les flux de capitaux publics stagnaient, les flux privés ont connu un grand essor ; parmi ceux–ci, les investissements de portefeuille et les prêts bancaires ont progressé plus vite que les investissements directs étrangers, en dépit de leur plus grande volatilité. Compte tenu de l’impact des décisions d’investissement sur les modalités d’utilisation des ressources (notamment sur l’environnement), quelles sont les conséquences de cette évolution ?Un investissement « en dur » par une firme multinationale doit s’accompagner d’une prise en compte des effets sur l’environnement, ce que ne font ni les prêts bancaires, ni les investissements de portefeuille. On observe que les investissements directs étrangers, notamment des grandes firmes, ne concernent pas en priorité les industries « polluantes » et ...

Date: 2000-07-01
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