FDI and Firm Productivity in Host Countries: The Role of Financial Constraints
50 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 31, 2021
This paper studies the effect of FDI firms' financial advantages on firm productivity in host countries and examines the related policy implications. If FDI firms face lower financing costs but have higher fixed production costs than local firms, a simple Melitz-type model predicts that because of their financial advantages, FDI firms could have even lower cutoff productivity than local firms, especially in financially vulnerable sectors. The same mechanism will also lower the average productivity of FDI firms especially in financially vulnerable sectors, although FDI firms on average are still more productive than local firms. These predictions are supported by the Chinese firm-level data. Then, we study policy implications in a two-country model that resembles these empirical patterns. The counterfactual policy analysis shows that offering tax benefits to FDI firms could be counterproductive because it attracts FDI firms that are even less productive than local firms. The policy in the host country to improve its financial market efficiency could also hurt the country's welfare because of the interaction between financial market reforms and the distortionary taxes imposed on local firms to finance FDI subsidies.
Keywords: Foreign direct investment; financial constraints; firm productivity; China
JEL Classification: F15; F21; F23; F36; F60
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