Foreign Direct Investment in the U.S. and U.S. Trade

Robert E. Lipsey

NBER Working Paper No. 3623 (Also Reprint No. r1667)
Issued in February 1991
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment, International Finance and Macroeconomics

Foreign-owned manufacturing firms' shares of U.S. trade grew from almost nothing in the 1960s to 7 or 8 per cent of trade in manufactured goods by the 1980s. It has changed little in the past decade, except for fluctuations related to changing U.S. exchange rates. Foreign-owned firms are less export-oriented than U.S. parent companies, overall and in the same industries, and more dependent on imports, relative to their sales. The foreign affiliates' comparative advantage relative to U.S. parent firms and U.S. firms in general is concentrated in chemicals and metals industries. Foreign-owned firms in machinery and transport equipment do relatively little exporting from the U.S. in comparison with U.S.-owned firms. The trade of the foreign-owned firms, as measured by exports/sales and imports/sales ratios and by export/import ratios, fluctuates more than that of U.S. firms. In particular, foreign affiliates seem to be more responsive than U.S. parents to exchange rate changes, shifting their production between sales in the U.S. and exports and their inputs between U.S. production and imports as the value of the dollar rises and falls.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3623

Published: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, No. 516 , pp. 76-90, (July 1991).

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