Openness and economic growth

  • Chengang Wang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The themes of this thesis are that international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) are closely related and that they have varying impacts on economic growth in countries at different stages of development. The thesis consists of three empirical studies. The first one examines the causal relationship between FDI and trade in China. The empirical study is based on a panel of bilateral data for China and 19 home countries/regions over the period 1984-98. The specific feature of the study is that econometric techniques designed specially for panel data are applied to test for unit roots and causality. The results indicate a virtuous procedure of development for China. The growth of China’s imports causes growth in inward FDI from a home country/region, which in turn causes the growth of exports from China to the home country/region. The growth of exports causes the growth of imports. This virtuous procedure is the result of China’s policy of opening to the outside world. China has been encouraging export-oriented FDI and reducing trade barriers. Such policy instruments should be further encouraged in order to enhance economic growth. In the second study, an extended gravity model is constructed to identify the main causes of recent trade growth in OECD countries. The specific features include (a) the explicit introduction of R&D and FDI as two important explanatory variables into an augmented gravity equation; (b) the adoption of a panel data approach, and (c) the careful treatment of endogeneity. The main findings are that the levels and similarities of market size, domestic R&D stock and inward FDI stock are positively related to the volume of bilateral trade, while the geographical distance, exchange rate and relative factor endowments, has a negative impact. These findings lend support to new trade, FDI and economic growth theories. The third study evaluates the impact of openness on growth in different country groups. This research distinguishes itself from many existing studies in three aspects: first, both trade and FDI are included in the measurement of openness. Second, countries are divided' into three groups according to their development stages to compare the roles of FDI and trade in different groups. Third, the possible problems of endogeneity and multicollinearity of FDI and trade are carefully dealt with in a panel data setting. The main findings are that FDI and trade are both beneficial to a country's development. However, trade has positive effects on growth in all country groups but FDI has positive effects on growth only in the country groups which have had moderate development. The findings suggest FDI and trade may affect growth under different conditions.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorXiaming Liu (Supervisor)


  • openness
  • economic growth
  • international trade
  • FDI

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