Friday, May 17, 2013

Coming soon: my 2013 report on China's investment policies

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is about to publish an update on China's inward and, in particular, outward investment policies, based on official sources, some of which have not previously been made available outside China. This will be in the form of a Working Paper under my authorship. The working paper continues the series of three Investment Policies of China that I wrote and published from 2003 to 2008.

What was in those Reviews? What will be in the forthcoming update?

In 2003, shortly after arriving at the OECD, I published the Organisation's first report on China's investment policies, subtitled Progress and reform challenges. This study recorded and evaluated the development from 1979 to 2003 of a highly effective enabling environment for foreign direct investment (FDI) in China and suggested policy options -- still relevant today -- to improve it further.

I then conducted further research, including at a path-breaking multi-stakeholder symposium in Beijing in December 2005, that went into the second OECD Investment Policy Review of China in 2006. The Chinese government had asked us to help their project of reviving the industrial heartland (and now rustbelt) of China in the North East, previously known as Manchuria. As the focus of the Investment Division of the OECD is on investment rather than on regional policy, I looked at how Chinese government policy could do more to encourage mergers and acquisitions (M&A) by foreign investors. My guess that this is what the North East was looking for was confirmed at a conference I organised with China's Ministry of Commerce in a below-freezing March 2005 in Changchun, where I was plied with prospectuses from loss-making enterprises desperately seeing foreign funds to refloat them. This second Review was subtitled Open policies towards mergers and acquisitions.

The third Investment Policy Review of China, published in 2008, was pathbreaking in that for the first time it focused on China's outward direct investment. It also updated the earlier Reviews with an update of inward FDI policies. The report provided what was then a unique account of the motivations for and development of China's outward direct investment in the light of government policy encouraging domestic enterprises to "go global".

The 2008 Review also provided the first detailed and comprehensive analysis of the Chinese government's efforts to encourage responsible business conduct by enterprises in China and by Chinese enterprises investing abroad, highlighting in particular efforts to strengthen environmental protection and respect for core labour standards by enterprises. The final chapter included the results of a mult-stakeholder seminar on responsible environmental conduct in China in Paris that was attended by Chinese NGOs.

What will be in the 2013 update?

I don't want to give the whole game away before publication, but there are some items you could reasonably expect to be in the update:

  • A unique presentation of different policies of China's provinces towards outward investment, based on official source material not widely available outside China.
  • The very latest statistics on China's inward and outward direct investment.
  • An evaluation of changes in the contribution of FDI to China's GDP, trade surplus, fixed investment and tax revenues.
  • Further liberalisation of the FDI framework in China since 2008.
  • Changes in outward investment policies since 2008.
  • Policy recommendations to help provinces develop outward direct investment.
The book will be available from the OECD's online bookshop and a summary will be posted on the OECD website.

Watch this space for developments.

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