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Outward FDI from Developing Countries: A Case of Chinese Firms in South Africa

Discussion Papers

No.385

February 2013

ABSTRACT

Outward foreign direct investment (FDI) from developing countries is increasing. In the research on FDI, it has been considered that only competitive and productive firms can invest in foreign countries. However, since the differences in competitiveness and productivity between multinational enterprises (MNEs) from developed and developing countries have not been explicitly investigated, we cannot say whether MNEs from developing countries can or cannot survive in competition with MNEs from developed countries as well as against competitive and productive indigenous firms in host countries. To examine the activities of MNEs from developing countries, this study investigates Chinese firms in South Africa. It reveals that in order to compensate for the weak brand recognition of Chinese products and to expand sales, Chinese firms have mainly been making products that are sold under the brand names of indigenous South African firms. Chinese firms have expanded their business in South Africa relying on the business resources of indigenous firms in the host country. This indicates that business with indigenous firms is significant for MNEs from developing countries in boosting competitiveness.



Keywords: foreign direct investment (FDI); multinational enterprise (MNE); China; South Africa
JEL classification: F23; M16

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