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Public governance as a key determinant of FDI: a comparative analysis of sub-saharan Africa and south-east Asia host countries

Desbordes, R. and Azémar, C. and Mucchielli, J.L. (2004) Public governance as a key determinant of FDI: a comparative analysis of sub-saharan Africa and south-east Asia host countries. In: Foreign Direct Investment in Developing Countries: Leveraging the role of multinationals. Agence Française de Développement, pp. 23-51.

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The World Bank (2000), in its report on Quality of Growth emphasises the importance of public governance as the keystone of a country's development. Studies examining determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) are also increasingly taking account of such fundamentals as institutional and political factors. Thus, rule of law, bureaucratic corruption, educational attainment or quality of physical infrastructure are now included in econometric analyses next to more common variables such as market size, labour costs or trade openness. In other words, good governance appears to be a key condition for attracting FDI. For instance, Lehmann (1999), shows that a country like India could increase its share of US affiliates' physical investment by 50% if it were to eliminate all political uncertainty. For a developing country, the stakes for improving its public governance are high. Beyond an increase in its growth rate, a favourable business climate is likely to attract more FDI and enhance their alleged spillovers. More FDI means more financial resources for the host country, whereas it is likely that the technological intensity of these investments and the transfer of foreign know-how to domestic firms will largely depend on the quality of public governance. This article has three goals. First, to clarify why public governance is likely to influence FDI inflows. Second, to propose a new evaluation of public governance through the construction of quantitative, relatively objective, easily replicable and sample-specific indicators. The public governance of two geographic zones will be assessed through this method: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and South-East Asia (SEA). As shown in table 1.1, the former attracts much less FDI than the latter. Third, to test econometrically whether public governance explains the diverging abilities of SSA and SEA to attract FDI.