FDI and regulation with particular reference to entry of multinational supermarket firms into Malaysia
This dissertation has concentrated on a study of a particular class of foreign direct investment (FDI) and multinational firms (MNFs), that of services and supermarket firms. This focus contrasts sharply with most previous works on FDI, which have concentrated on manufacturing FDI and manufacturing firms. While the empirical works on FDI have also typically used aggregated data in conjunction with econometric methods to establish statistically significant determinants, this dissertation in addition has looked more deeply at micro economic analysis. This dissertation is also different from previous works because it has considered FDI from various perspectives, including not only from the well-known perspective of the FDI theory but also from a firm specific approach of vertical integration and regulation. In contrast to the macro and aggregative results of the FDI approach the results stemming from the micro methodology are disaggregated and firm specific. The key feature of the aggregate FDI approach taken here is a service-manufacturing distinction. Based on that distinction it is shown that there is a difference in the magnitude of the variables (relative to their standard errors) between services and manufacturing FDI in Malaysia and also for the UK. These results, which are established and explored in Chapter Five, suggest that at a macro level there is a service related result quite different from the manufacturing case for any government seeking to attract services as well as manufacturing FDI. One of the key variables to the services manufacturing distinction is the openness variable and this variable is also central in the context of regulation. This dissertation has also looked at vertical integration analysis because MNFs and firms in the supermarket activity are vertically integrated or coordinated corporations spanning services as well as manufacturing related activities. In this context this dissertation has expanded on the earlier work on vertical integration by Hasan and Ryan (2003) and has also given a multinational dimension to that analysis. It has looked at the factors affecting the degree of integration or coordination between retailers and suppliers and ways in which a relative advantage in productivity may relate to a difference in the transfer price. Additionally it comprehends the distributional impact on profits, suppliers, workers and consumers. It is argued that in the multinational interpretations a net welfare gain to the host nation may only accrue to its consumers because profits of the MNFs may be taken out of the country and inputs may be outsourced, benefiting suppliers or workers from different nations instead of the host country. The micro economic approach has also looked at regulation mechanisms and ways in which the rate of entry of FDI and the MNFs may be regulated. In this context the openness variable, which is a standard and statistically significant variable in aggregate econometric approaches, is also a key variable in the micro regulation model, where it has a wider application including not only to tariffs on imports and exports but also on the rate of profits. In general the regulation model has shown how variations in the magnitude of taxes on the profits of MNFs may have an impact not only on the rate and magnitude of entry of FDI but also on the type of FDI (manufacturing or services) that is encouraged or discouraged by a host government. In a more specific analysis, the model has also looked at how market structures as well as the level of integration or disintegration may be affected by varying the level of taxes and subsidies on the inputs. These outcomes on vertical integration and regulation, together with the macro aggregate results, may have implications both for theory and for policy, as well as for the way host government may manipulate these aspects. From the theoretical context this dissertation has made contributions to the study on FDI and the MNFs where the analysis has looked at both macro and the micro methodology. The macro analysis has looked at the services-manufacturing distinction, whereas in the disaggregated methodology services and manufacturing may be systematically integrated or coordinated and the services-manufacturing distinction is harder to draw. With regard to policy, this dissertation has looked at the implications for the determinants affecting FDI entry, the multinational interpretations on vertical integration as well as its distributional impact, and also regulation mechanisms. It was shown how results on the impact of regulating taxes and subsidies which may shape industrial structure leading to integration or disintegration may be crucial. In general the policy is to encourage the entry of FDI and the MNFs but with some trade-offs as these firms may drive out local firms. Finally the competition policy in Malaysia is not well developed and therefore not comparable or analogous to the more developed competition policy of the EU and the UK. Therefore there are good grounds for Malaysia to examine the well developed competition policy of these countries, as useful lessons could be drawn from the EU and the UK in particular, where the emphasis might be different.