Does Chinese Inward Foreign Direct Investment Improve the Productivity of Domestic Firms? Horizontal Linkages and Absorptive Capacities: Firm-level Evidence from Ethiopia

Publicized as a global call for action in 2015, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has forwarded an agenda of resolutions to achieve the goals of sustainable development by 2030 (SDGs). Due to the specific challenges of funding gaps and the lack of advanced technology, the majority of Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries are still behind the standard of world development. Since foreign direct investment (FDI) has the potential to bring much-needed capital and efficient technology, FDI has often been considered as a vigorous source of development, even for sustainable development for under-developing economies experienced today. Conspicuously, Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) into SSA has seen a strong upward trend in the 21st Century, after¬†China¬†proclaimed its “go global” strategy. Ethiopia is one of the favored destinations of the trend of Chinese OFDI, which also substantially continues through the SSA region. The hosting economy of Ethiopia expected that Chinese inward FDI comes with capital, efficient technology, and knowledge to contribute innovations through directly improving productivity and competitiveness via technological diffusion to domestic industries and eventually for sustainable development. Against this backdrop, this study utilizes firm-level panel datasets from Ethiopia to address the following couple of research questions. The first question is: are there any productivity differences between the establishment of Chinese-affiliated and domestic firms in the manufacturing industry in Ethiopia? The second is, does the presence of Chinese-affiliated firms provide productivity spillovers for domestic firms in the same industry level for socio-economic development? The investigation was carried out using 2554 manufacturing firm census data, from which 15.04% were Chinese firms operating in Ethiopia. We used the ordinary least squares (OLS) and generalized-method-of-moments (GMM) two-step approaches for estimations. Our findings revealed that, generally, Chinese firms were more productive than local firms and their presence can bring positive potential productivity spillover effects for domestic firms. Specifically, we found that local firms have gained significant positive spillovers when they had a high absorptive capacity, whereas low-absorptive capacity firms suffered negative spillovers. We also found that non-exporting domestic firms experience significant positive spillovers from the presence of Chinese firms.

Licence Information:

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Citation:
Negash, E.S.; Zhu, W.; Lu, Y. and Wang, Z. (2020) 'Does Chinese Inward Foreign Direct Investment Improve the Productivity of Domestic Firms? Horizontal Linkages and Absorptive Capacities: Firm-level Evidence from Ethiopia', Sustainability 12.7.3023

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