Evaluating the Impact of FTAs on FDI: A Text-Based Approach
Prepared for the Conference, Is a Multilateral Investment Treaty Needed? World Trade Institute, Bern 19 June 2017
16 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 19, 2017
The literature on the impact of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) on foreign direct investment (FDI) has had difficulty establishing a robust effect of BITs on FDI flows. This conclusion extends to FDI chapters in free trade agreements (FTAs), which feature the same substantive content as BITs. The lack of an empirically identifiable effect may reflect econometric difficulties, a minimal role of BITs/FTAs in corporate FDI decisions, or the lack of liberalizing content in the treaties. We consider the latter issue by mapping the legal commitments in FTAs onto the OECD’s Foreign Direct Investment Restrictiveness (FDIR) Index, while drawing on the Mode 3 component of the OECD’s Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) to enable greater granularity of treatment of the measures in FTAs. The modified index, which we label the FDI-RI to distinguish it from the FDIR, has the same broad policy areas and the same weighting scheme as the FDIR but the measures under each horizontal policy area (i.e., policies that apply to FDI in general without distinguishing sectors) that are covered in more detail by the STRI have been disaggregated into measures that correspond to those in the STRI. The FDI-RI thus covers both goods and services on a consistent basis, but with greater detail for goods sectors than available under the FDIR. Importantly, we take into account the impact of FTA measures in improving upon each party’s bindings under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). In principle, empirically quantified NTBs reflect both applied restrictions and uncertainty. We identify uncertainty with “water” in the bound commitments and construct a composite NTB that reflects applied measures and water. This approach allows a determination of whether and how much FTAs liberalize investment by either reducing applied barriers, decreasing uncertainty, or both. Given measures of tax equivalents for non-tariff measures affecting investment, this approach also allows the calculation of a tax equivalent shock for use in quantitative models. We comment on the impact of FDI liberalization in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement using this approach.
Keywords: Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, STRI, GATS Commitments, Water, Uncertainty, FTAs
JEL Classification: F13, F14, F68
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation