Openness to Foreign Direct Investment in Services: An International Comparative Analysis
Stephen S. Golub
This paper quantifies and analyses the extent of restrictions on inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in the service sector in developed and developing countries. Services account for an increasing share of global FDI. Recognition of the economic benefits of FDI clashes with nationalistic economic, political and national security concerns about foreign takeover of 'strategic' sectors, such as telecommunications, finance and transport. Consequently, almost all countries impose restrictions on FDI in services. Several different types of restrictions are considered: limitations on foreign ownership, screening or notification procedures, management restrictions and operational restrictions. These restrictions on FDI are computed at the industry level and then aggregated into a single measure for the service sector as a whole for 23 developed and 50 developing countries. Notwithstanding the worldwide trend towards liberalisation of restrictions, there remain substantial disparities between regions and individual countries in the severity of restrictions on inward FDI in services. The lowest restriction scores are in Europe and Latin America, whereas East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East have the highest levels of restrictions. The evolution over time of FDI restrictions is also presented for developed countries over the period 1981-2005, showing liberalisation in all countries, especially since the early 1990s, although to varying extents across countries. The severity of restrictions also differs considerably by sector, with electricity, telecommunications, transport and finance most restricted. The paper also finds a strong negative correlation of restrictiveness with inward stocks of FDI in services, suggesting that restrictions impede FDI. Copyright 2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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