Heterogeneous Impact of Trade Liberalization on Vertical FDI: Evidence from Japanese firm-level data

Author Name HAYAKAWA Kazunobu  (Bangkok Research Center, JETRO) /MATSUURA Toshiyuki  (Keio University)
Creation Date/NO. March 2013 13-E-020
Research Project Determinants of the Productivity Gap among Firms in Japan
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This paper empirically explores the reason why a recent surge of foreign direct investment (FDI) to developing countries has been mainly driven by less productive firms. To this end, we present a simple model of FDI with vertical division of labor in a heterogeneous firm framework. From a theoretical point of view, in countries with low unskilled worker wages and low trade costs, firms with high productivity invest abroad and engage in international division of labor. Moreover, if trade costs have further reduced, the productivity cut-off level becomes lower and firms within the middle range of productivity will start investing in low wage countries. Our empirical analysis using logit estimation or a multinomial logit model of Japanese firms’ FDI choices reveals that a reduction in tariff rates attracts even less productive vertical foreign direct investment (VFDI) firms. This result is consistent with a different definition of VFDI. Because developing countries, particularly East Asian countries, have experienced a relatively rapid decrease in tariff rates, our results indicate that the increase in VFDI through tariff rate reduction has led to the recent relative surge of FDIs in developing countries.