Irish Investment In China. Setting New Patterns ~ Contents, List Of Abbreviations & Glossary Of Terms

IrishAsia2Now online:  Nicholas O’Brien – Irish Investment in China. Setting new patterns. 

Consideration of Irish investment in China will be located within the context of investment theory. Accordingly, chapter two examines the seminal literatureon foreign direct investment and sets out an appropriate model of investment theory within which this research shall be considered. The limited literature on Irish outward FDI is also considered, with specific emphasis on Barry et al’s model on Irish outward FDI.
Chapter three outlines the results of this research and emerging themes are identified. This allows conclusions to be drawn as to whether Barry et al’s model holds in the case of Irish FDI into China. It should be stressed that this is not in any manner a judgement on Barry et al’s model. Rather, it is a reflection on the nature of China as an emerging economy and the unique political economy which it enjoys.
Chapter four draws on the research to explore the opportunities and challenges which China represents. The principal locational advantages and disadvantages which China poses are set out. It is argued that the major potential which China represents for Irish investors lies in market opportunity rather than in low labour costs, an opinion which is supported by the relevant literature on FDI in China. The principal locational disadvantages are identified as existing in the regulatory, cultural and legal environments. This allows conclusions to be drawn on our sub-hypothesis, namely the challenges which China poses for investors.
Chapter five explores the nature of Irish FDI into China. The non-application of Barry et al’s model to China is discussed together with our prescriptive research question, namely the desirability of state involvement in outward FDI. This chapter also seeks to explain why Irish FDI into China is different from that in the traditional destinations for outward FDI.
The concluding chapter draws on previous chapters to identify conclusions which can be drawn. Key findings are highlighted and potential areas for further research suggested.

Abstract & Acknowledgements

Chapter 1 – The Giant Arises
Research Methodology

Chapter 2 – The Nature of Outward FDI
Investment Defined
Dunning’s Eclectic Paradigm
Investment Theory
The Role of the Multinational Enterprise in FDI
Why FDI Occurs
Irish Outward FDI
Barry’s Model on Irish Outward FDI
China and Inward FDI
Relationships and Contract Law

Chapter 3 – The Views of Investors
Profile of the MNEs Included in This Research
Structure of the Chinese Subsidiaries
Rationale for Investing and Incentives
Experience Since Investing
Disincentives and Barriers to Investing in China
Intellectual Property Rights
Contract Law
Role of the State
Investors in Eastern Europe

Chapter 4 – A land of Opportunity and Challenge
Locational Advantages which China Offers
Locational Disadvantages which China Poses
The Regulatory Framework
China’s Culture
Contract Law
Intellectual Property Rights
Corruption and the Giving of Gifts
Regionalism – Advantages and Disadvantages for FDI

Chapter 5 – Irish FDI into China–Evidence, Potential and Policy
Barry’s Model
Irish FDI into China and Barry’s Model
The Potential for Irish Investment
Home Country Effect
Irish Public Policy

Chapter 6 – Conclusions & Bibliography
Main Findings

Bibliography Read more

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Irish Investment in China. Setting New Patterns ~ Abstract & Acknowledgements

According to the Industrial Development Path Hypothesis (Dunning, 1981, 1986, 2001), outward Foreign Direct Investment is symptomatic of successful advanced industrialised economies. After a decade of unprecedented growth and prosperity from the mid-1990s, the Irish economy had reached a sufficient level of maturity that Irish firms were beginning to seek new markets in which to invest.

Barry et al’s (2003) authoritative work states that Irish outward FDI is disproportionately horizontal and oriented towards non-internationally traded sectors. This study was based exclusively on developed economies – Europe and North America, rather than developing economies or emerging markets. Such countries have not yet featured in the literature on outward Irish FDI. Given the importance of China as the largest global recipient of inward FDI, this book explores the nature of Irish FDI into China and specifically considers whether Barry et al’s model on Irish outward FDI holds for current Irish investment into China. This consideration will be conducted within the framework of Dunning’s Eclectic Paradigm, which contends that locational, ownership and internalisation advantages must exist for successful investment to occur.

While the level of Irish FDI into China is limited, research was conducted among all Irish firms which had invested in China (this research was conducted in 2006 and 2007). It was found that the nature and scope of Irish FDI into China differs from earlier patterns identified by Barry et al in the case of developed economies. Irish FDI into China is found to be predominately in the traded sector and can be described as only marginally horizontal.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of this development, the locational advantages and disadvantages which China poses are explored. The principal locational advantage is identified as market opportunity. Perhaps the most significant challenge facing investors is the risk to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). It is argued that this has the potential to affect the ownership advantage which Irish MNEs possess. Accordingly, there is a need to utilise internalisation advantage to protect IPR. Consideration is given to the role which the state can play in the provision of ‘soft supports’ for investors, primarily through the provision of market information.

The experience and insight offered by senior business executives offered a valuable and unique perspective on the world of private sector decision making. I am particularly grateful for the level of access and openness which I received. I would also like to thank senior staff in the Irish Government state agencies, Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency for the valuable information and assistance provided. Without the openness and positive disposition of my interviewees, this research would not have been possible.

I wish to acknowledge the support and encouragement of my doctoral thesis supervisors Dr. Andrew Baker, Queen’s University Belfast and Dr. Michael Mulreany, Institute of Public Administration, Dublin. Their guidance and support were particularly important and insightful in helping me develop my line of argumentation. I should also like to acknowledge the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs for their positive attitude and support towards continuing professional education. A special word of thanks is due to the staff at the Department’s library, who aided my search for literature in a professional and helpful manner.

Finally, I should like to thank my wife Caroline who, on a snowy afternoon in Monscheau, Germany, suggested that I pursue a doctorate. Together with my daughters, Ciara and Niamh, she provided support, encouragement and especially the time to facilitate my studies.

Nicolas O’ Brien

For anybody with an interest in investing in or doing business in China, Nicholas O’Brien’s scholarly and informative book should be essential reading. Given the growing importance of China in global trade this is a very timely work which I highly commend.
Dick Spring, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ireland

This book identifies clear differences between Irish investment into China and that into traditional FDI locations such as the US and UK. It is an authoritative work, particularly in view of the author’s experience as a senior diplomat in China and offers clear conclusions as to the benefits and challenges of investing in China”.

Dr. Michael B. Murphy, President, UCC

This is a must read for Irish people considering investment in China. The author discusses why considerable challenges still remain. A very comprehensive insight into informed investment in China.
Donal O’Callaghan, former Chairperson, Ireland China Association

Dr Nicholas O’Brien worked at the coalface of the transformation of modern China during his four years as Irish Consul General in Shanghai. His work is a testament to intelligent observation and the insight that experienced observers can have. The sideline sometimes brings more perspective than those on the pitch have. His book greatly expands our store of knowledge on this subject in an accessible manner with lucid division of what he is discussing and crystal clear conclusions.
Richard Barrett, Treasury Holdings

This admirable book charts the experience of Irish investors in China and has valuable pointers and good advice for business investors planning to invest in the Middle Kingdom. Given the author’s wide international experience, in particular his unique insight as Irish Consul General in Shanghai, this book is an authoritative source on the challenges and opportunities which China offers.
Dr T P Hardiman, Asia Europe Business Forum

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Chapter 1: The Giant Arises ~ Irish Investment in China. Setting New Patterns

The introduction of the ‘opening-up’ policy by the Chinese authorities in 1979 heralded an era of economic reform and ‘symbolised China’s sharp turn towards participation in the world market to speed to economic growth and technological modernisation’. (Riskin, 1987: 316) Since then, China’s economic story has been a remarkable success, growing on average over eight per cent per annum. Central to this economic success was the attraction of inward foreign direct investment. Such was the success of this policy that in 2003 China overtook the US as the largest global recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), attracting $53 billion in that year (OECD, 2004).
On the other side of the globe, the Irish economy was also going through its own transformation. The 1970s and ‘80s were a period of high inflation, unemployment and the presence of large-scale emigration. In contrast, the 1990s was an era of unrivalled economic growth, with double digit GNP increases for most of this decade. Central to this transformation was the high level of inward FDI which Ireland attracted. Building on the strength of the economy, outward FDI continued to grow to such a degree that in 2004 Ireland became a net exporter of FDI for the first time.
Given the importance which both inward and outward FDI plays in economic development, the drivers and patterns of Irish FDI into the surging Chinese economy are worthy of examination. Barry et al’s (2003) seminal work on Irish outward FDI focuses on FDI into the US and UK, both of which are developed economies. Barry et al show that Irish outward FDI has been disproportionately horizontal (focused on replicating production facilities in third countries rather than moving an entire component of the production chain) and oriented towards non-internationally traded sectors.

Given the importance of China, as the largest recipient of inward FDI and the world’s second largest economy, it is opportune to explore the nature of Irish FDI into China and specifically whether or not the model identified for developed economies by Barry et al holds for Irish investment into China. ‘As Dunning (1997) has emphasised, full account must be taken of location factors, such as the structure of the host economy, the policies of the host government  and the nature of local business culture, in explaining the comparative success and failure of FDI’. (Buckley and Casson, 1998: 27) However, ‘China’s size makes it different from nearly all other developing and developed countries’. (Eckaus, 1987: 117) It is important therefore for investors, policy makers and commentators on FDI to be conscious of the challenges and opportunities which China holds. While China displays the hallmarks of a market economy, it is a unique political economy. The State is still heavily involved in virtually all facets of economic life. In addition, China has a strong cultural tradition which places an emphasis on relationship building.

The author conducted research into Irish investment during the period 2006-2007 among the relatively small number of Irish investments in China. In the intervening period, the pattern of investment has not appreciably changed and the findings are still valid. The author had the good fortune to witness at first hand the rapid advances which the Chinese economy is experiencing over a four-year period. The rationale motivating this research is the importance of China in the study of FDI and the potential modifications to theory which China may necessitate, because of its status as a developing economy and its non-adherence to the Weberian concept of contract law. Read more

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Chapter 2: Literature Review And Issues To Be Addressed ~ Irish Investment In China. Setting New Patterns

There is a considerable amount of material on FDI, the multinational enterprise (MNE) and the role of China in today’s globalised economy, and the literature considered in this chapter reflects the key issues under discussion. Initially, investment is defined and competing views on investment theory are considered, with the most suitable one for this study identified. Given the inter-twined linkage between FDI and multi-national enterprises (MNEs), the role of MNEs is explored, followed by an analysis of how FDI occurs at the level of the firm.
The limited literature on Irish outward FDI is also set out. Specifically, Barry et al’s model on Irish outward FDI is examined, so that the application of their hypothesis to the Chinese economy can be considered. This is followed by a consideration of the rise of FDI in China and the influence which China’s unique culture has on the FDI environment.

Investment Defined
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) offers a definition of foreign direct investment.
Direct investment is the category of international investment that reflects the objective of a resident entity in one economy obtaining a lasting interest in an enterprise resident in another economy. (The resident entity is the direct investor and the enterprise is the direct investment enterprise.) The lasting interest implies the existence of a long-term relationship between the direct investor and the enterprise and a significant degree of influence by the investor on the management of the enterprise. (IMF, 1993: 86)
The IMF goes on to define a direct investment enterprise ‘as an incorporated or unincorporated enterprise in which a direct investor, who is resident in another economy, owns 10% or more of the ordinary shares or voting power’. (IMF, 1993:86) This definition is aimed at providing a standard by which balance-of-payments data is compiled. However, it does not adequately address the issue of control.
The OECD (2006: 2) defines direct investment as a category of international investment made by a resident entity in one economy (direct investor) with the objective of establishing a lasting interest in an enterprise resident in an economy other than that of the investor (direct investment enterprise). ‘Lasting interest’ implies the existence of a long-term relationship between the direct investor and the enterprise and a significant degree of influence by the direct investor on the management of the direct investment enterprise.

Again, this definition is not precise enough for use in this research, as the issue of control is couched in terms of a ‘significant degree of influence’. Moosa (2002: 1) comes close to a workable definition when he defines FDI as ‘the process whereby residents of one country (the source country) acquire ownership of assets for the purpose of controlling the production, distribution and other activities of a firm in another country (the host country)’.
Lipsey (2001) contends that the United Nations System of National Accounts, which governs the compilation of national income data, appropriately addresses the concept of control. The UN System of National Accounts defines foreign controlled enterprises as subsidiaries of which more than 50% are owned by a foreign parent. (United Nations, 1993) This definition focuses on control and is the one which shall be used as our reference point. Investments below 50 per cent of a firm’s stock are either of a portfolio nature or offer the investor a minority shareholding. In seeking to explore potential Irish investment into China and gain a fuller appreciation of the complexities and challenges of FDI, the scope of this research includes only those firms which have a controlling interest. MNEs holding 50% of stock or less are, by their nature, restricted in the scope of their decision-making and influence. ‘The distinguishing feature of FDI, in comparison with other forms of international investment, is the element of control over management policy and decision’. (Moosa, 2002: 2)
For the purposes of this research, therefore, control is a central concept. The FDI relationship consists of a parent enterprise and a foreign affiliate which together form a multinational enterprise (MNE). Given the importance of MNEs and the central role which they play in FDI decisions, their role and structure is explored later in this chapter.
Having set out our working definition of FDI, it is important to distinguish between the two principal forms in which FDI takes place. Firstly firms can invest abroad to supply a market directly through a subsidiary, whereby production processes from the home economy are replicated in the host economy, and this is described as horizontal FDI. This form of FDI is often undertaken to exploit more fully certain monopolistic or oligopolistic advantages, such as patents or differentiated products. (Moosa, 2002) The second form, vertical FDI, is undertaken to locate low-cost locations for components of the production process, whereby certain elements are moved in their totality from the home to the host economy. Horizontal and vertical FDI should not be seen as competing theories. Rather, they seek to explain different rationale underlying
investment decisions.
All investments necessarily entail trade-offs and compromises. Horizontal FDI avoids trade costs but foregoes economies of scale, as production is diversified. Vertical FDI incurs the costs of splitting production over various geographic locations. ‘Theory suggests factors that are important in these tradeoffs; some of these factors are firm or industry specific (e.g. the importance of economies of scale), some are country characteristics (e.g. the market size or factory prices)’. (Navaretti and Venables, 2004: 127) It would appear that horizontal FDI is by far the major component of outward FDI. Moosa (2002) argues that horizontal FDI may be in the region of 70% of the total. Jim Markusen, one of the leading FDI scholars, states that horizontal exceeds vertical, but acknowledges the difficulty in quantifying this. Reliable data on the breakdown between horizontal and vertical FDI is difficult to obtain. While it can be assumed that horizontal FDI still dominates, the extent of such pre-eminence is unquantifiable.
Having defined FDI for the purposes of this research, it is appropriate to move to a consideration of the body of literature which exists on FDI theory. This literature provides an appropriate investment theory within which to locate our consideration of Barry et al’s model and the potential challenges and opportunities facing Irish investors into China. Read more

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Chapter 3: The Views of Investors ~ Irish Investment In China. Setting New Patterns

As indicated above, traditional Irish outward FDI to the US and Europe is disproportionately horizontal in nature and is concentrated in the non-traded sector. (Barry et al, 2003) This chapter explores the views of business executives as to the rationale underlying their investment in China, their experience since investing, the disincentives and barriers to investing in China, and the role which executives see for state support in ameliorating the locational disadvantages which China poses.
By analysing the organisation and scope of activities of Irish MNEs which have invested in China, conclusions can be drawn as to whether Barry et al’s model is applicable to Irish FDI into China. The experiences of executives in both the Irish and non-Irish MNEs categories allow us to draw conclusions as to the locational challenges which China may pose. These perceptions and an analysis of the investment climate in the next chapter will permit conclusions to be drawn as to whether the validity of our sub-hypothesis holds, namely that  the Chinese investment climate is considerably different from that faced by Irish investors in developed economies, the traditional location for outward FDI.
Should significant locational disadvantages be found to exist, within the meaning of Dunning’s eclectic paradigm, our prescriptive research question will examine the potential role which exists for government to assist potential investors.

This chapter sets out the results of the research undertaken for this study. Initially, the profiles of the investing companies (both Irish and non-Irish) will be set out, but in a manner which respects the confidentiality offered to interviewees. This will be followed by a consideration of the investment rationale and the available incentives, which drove the MNE to invest in China. Using this framework, the locational advantage which China offers can be identified.
Locational disadvantages will also be explored by examining the experience of executives since investing. The manner in which MNEs protect their ownership advantage through utilising internalisation advantage will offer guidance to potential Irish investors. Perceptions on the role of the state will be explored, which will assist in the consideration of our prescriptive research question. This will be followed by an evaluation of the views of Irish MNEs which have invested in Eastern Europe. It will be interesting to note if their perceptions as to the challenges facing investors in China will be borne out by the view of both Irish and non-Irish MNEs which have already invested in China.

Profile of the MNEs included in this Research – Irish MNEs
There is a significant variation in the size and scope of the Irish MNEs which have invested in China. The average size of the MNE’s investment in China was € 168 million. However, this figure is skewed by one large investment greater than €1 billion. When this investment is excluded, the average investment of Irish MNEs was € 6.3 million, which represents a significant commitment on the part of the parent Irish firm. The average number of employees in the Chinese subsidiary of Irish MNEs was 332. Again, this is distorted by the size of one MNE. Excluding this MNE, the average was 49 employees. This is not a large number of employees by Chinese standards. Perhaps this small number can be accounted for by the fact that just under half of the subsidiaries are in the hi-tech sector, where employee productivity tends to be high, and another is in the property sector, but not directly engaged in construction projects. LOCOmonitor (2006) found that the average number of employees in the overseas subsidiaries of Irish MNEs is 147. Taking all Irish investments in China, the number of employees is higher than the global average.
Turning to the parent Irish MNE, globally Irish MNEs which have invested in China had an average annual turnover of € 1.4 billion. Again there are large divergences within this average figure. The average number of employees globally was 4,247. This data gives an indication of the size and diversity of the MNEs which were included in this research.
Having analysed the activities of the Chinese subsidiaries we can say that, of the Irish MNEs which have invested in China, just over 80% are in the traded sector. The proportion between vertical and horizontal FDI is broadly equal. These results have significant implications for this research and indicate that Barry et al’s model is not directly applicable for the current wave of Irish investment in China, as it is largely in the traded sector and could not be described as disproportionately horizontal. We shall return to these findings in chapter five, when the nature of Irish FDI into China is explored. Read more

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Chapter 4: A Land Of Opportunity And Challenge ~ Irish Investment In China. Setting New Patterns

Li and Li (1999: 11) contend that ‘for potential foreign investors, a omprehensive understanding of the investment environment in China – including its unique history, culture, political system, socio-economic regime, legal system, infrastructure, and consumer behaviour is essential for the establishment of successful ventures in China’.
This paper will draw together the data generated by this research and identify the locational advantages and disadvantages which China holds for Irish investors. Initially the locational advantage which China offers will be considered as a means of appreciating the opportunity which China offers Irish investors.
This will be followed by a consideration of the locational disadvantages which China poses in the areas identified in the literature and through this research, namely the regulatory, cultural and legal frameworks. The literature review identified the legal framework as challenging, so issues raised in this research, namely contract law and intellectual property rights, will be considered.
Finally the effects of regionalism will be discussed with both locational advantages and disadvantages identified. At the conclusion of this paper we will be in a position to answer the question posed in the sub-hypothesis as to whether or not the business environment in China is different from that experienced by Irish investors in other markets. If this is the case, this analysis will also assist in providing an answer to our prescriptive research question as to the desirability of state involvement in the facilitation of Irish FDI into China.

Locational Advantages which China offers
The literature review points to the considerable advances which China has made in attracting inward FDI since the opening-up policy was introduced in 1979. MNEs continue to recognise the locational advantage which China offers and are seeking to exploit their ownership and internalisation advantages by investing in China.

China’s overall record since reforms began in 1979 is dazzling, and its performance is in many ways improving. Annual real GDP has grown about 9% a year, on average, since 1978 – an aggregate increase of some 700%. Foreign trade growth has averaged nearly 15% over the same period, or more than 2,700% in aggregate. Foreign direct investment has flooded into the country, especially throughout the past decade… The country has developed a powerful combination – a disciplined low-cost labor force; a large cadre of technical personnel; tax and other incentives to attract investment; and infrastructure sufficient to support efficient manufacturing operations and exports. (Lieberthal and Lieberthal, 2004: 3-4) Read more

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