Trade and Foreign Direct Investment in China: A Political Economy Approach
NBER Working Paper No. 7100
We view the political process in China as trading off the social benefits of increased trade and foreign direct investment, against the losses incurred by state-owned enterprises due to such liberalization. A model drawing on Grossman and Helpman (1994, 1996) is used to derive an empirically estimable government objective function. The key structural parameters of this model are estimated using province-level data on foreign direct investment and trade flows in China, over the years 1984-1995. We find that the weight applied to consumer welfare is between one-fifth and one-twelfth of the weight applied to the output of state-owned enterprises. We find that governmental preferences have shifted over time, but even in recent periods the weight on consumer welfare is only one-half of the weight on state-owned enterprises. This suggests that China may find it politically difficult to follow through with liberalizing its trade and investment regimes, such as under its WTO accession proposal.
Published: Branstetter, Lee G. & Feenstra, Robert C., 2002. "Trade and foreign direct investment in China: a political economy approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 335-358, December.