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Foreign Direct Investment

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Determining FDI Potential:
Are National Policies and Incentives Sufficient?

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is increasingly becoming a preferred form of capital flows to developing countries in recent years, as compared to other forms of capital flows. The reasons for this are not hard to seek. In the context of the gloom and despair of the heavy debt burden plaguing these countries, FDI promises to be the bright ray of hope for harnessing capital flows to the country’s economic development without the pangs of capital repayment with interest. In this context Feldstein and Razin (2000) and Sodka (forthcoming) note that the gains to host countries can take several other forms: • FDI allows transfer of capital and technology, which is not possible through financial investment in goods and services. • FDI also promotes competition in the domestic input market • Profits generated by FDI contribute to the corporate revenue in the host country • Operation of new ventures by FDI leads to employee learning in the host country who learn how to manage and operate the businesses. This contributes to human capital development of the host country. • Profits generated by FDI contribute to tax revenues in the host country

FDI is different from other major types of external private capital flows in that it is motivated largely by the investor’s long-term prospects for making profits in production activities that they directly control. Foreign bank lending and portfolio investment, in contrast, are not invested in activities controlled by banks or portfolio investors, and are often motivated by short-term profit considerations that can be influenced by a variety of factors—for example, interest rates—and are prone to sudden reversals (capital outflows) if any/some of these factors turn unfavourable. Mallampally and Sauvant (1999) claim that the...

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