Is Chinese Outward FDI in MENA little?

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Purpose – This paper aims to investigate the host country determinants of Chinese Outward FDI (OFDI) and, given these determinants, examines whether Chinese OFDI in MENA is less than elsewhere.

Design/methodology/approach – Data for the top 40 Chinese OFDI recipients including seven MENA countries from 2003 to 2012 were obtained. A pooled ordinary least squares estimation technique on the lagged explanatory variables and the lagged dependent variable – flows and stocks alternatively – with robust standard errors was used.

Findings – Chinese OFDI is market, resource and efficiency seeking and is attracted by poor governance. The seven MENA countries seemingly receive significantly less Chinese OFDI flows compared to other countries. However, careful inspection shows that UAE is creating this bias. This maybe because exporting to UAE rather than licensing or FDI seems like the best scenario, or UAE is already satiated with FDI from other countries, or China is waiting for the right time to enter such an FDI-competitive market like that of UAE.

Originality/value – Chinese OFDI is particularly important for MENA because it has a comparative advantage relative to other FDI source countries, and no research so far has investigated if it is less than in other regions, which could provide insights on how to attract it.