Chinese Outwards Mercantilism - the Art and Practice of Bundling

Joshua Aizenman, Yothin Jinjarak, Huanhuan Zheng

NBER Working Paper No. 21089
Issued in April 2015
NBER Program(s):   IFM

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) brought to the fore the limits of the Chinese export led-growth strategy and the need for Chinese rebalancing. The Chinese export-led growth strategy of the 2000s coincided with the country becoming one of the largest net global creditors. Intriguingly, the Chinese net income from its global creditor position was negative, reflecting the large share of its low-yielding assets (mostly international reserves), and its high share of high-yielding liabilities (mostly foreign direct investment in China). Our paper takes stock of what may be the next new chapter of Chinese outward-mercantilism, which aims at securing a higher rate of returns on its net foreign asset position, leveraging its success in becoming the global manufacturing hub and the supplier of swap-lines. The emerging new trend has been manifested by Chinese outward-oriented FDI in natural resources, commodities and mining, and providing a wide spectrum of infrastructure and construction services to developing countries. These activities are frequently bundled with access to finance and the export of Chinese capital products and labor services. We trace and analyze these trends, identifying the positive associations between Chinese trade, finance, and outward FDI (aggregate flows as well as greenfield capital investment). The positive association between Chinese outward FDI and commodities imports increases with the provision of RMB swap-lines to China’s trading partners. The association between Chinese FDI outflows in the natural resources sector and commodities imports has become stronger since the GFC. The association of RMB swap-lines with the Chinese outward FDI in the natural resources sector is especially large, thus supporting the conjecture that in the aftermath of the GFC Chinese outward FDI is bundled with trade and financial linkages.

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This paper was revised on June 2, 2015

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21089

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