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Revista de Economia Contemporânea

On-line version ISSN 1980-5527


CHESNAIS, François. Present international patterns of foreign direct investment: underlying causes and some policy implications for Brazil. Rev. econ. contemp. [online]. 2013, vol.17, n.3, pp.376-422. ISSN 1980-5527.

An important feature of the 1980s has been the substantial fall in the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to the developing countries and also, with the limited exception of the Asian NIE (Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore) and China, to the newly industrialized countries, in particular those in Latin America. FDI has been concentrated more than ever among the advanced industrialized countries of OECD. The same period has witnessed a number of extremely important changes, both in the nature and location of basic or key technologies, the role of technology in industrial competitiveness; the most appropriate industrial management paradigm following the difficulties of the "Fordist" one; the nature of predominant international supply or market structures; and the relationships between productive and financial capital. Today a number of governments in developing countries and in NIC, among them the new government of Brazil, are again engaged in an attempt to attract FDI and to make foreign capital one of the major pillars of industrial revival and future growth. This paper argues that this policy objective is both fairly illusory and largely mistaken. It is fairly illusory in that it seriously underestimates the nature and strength of the structural factors which have been at work since the mid-1970s and seriously modified the strategies and investment priorities of the TNC which under took the brunt of the investment in developing countries and NICs in the earlier "golden age" of the 1960s and 1970s . The objective of luring foreign capital again to Brazil in ways and on a level similar to the 1960s is also largely mistaken in that it fails to recognize that the change in technological paradigms has modified the parameters of international technology transfers (cf. Ernst and O'Connor, 1989) and made indigenous and endogenous industrial growth dependent to a much higher degree than in the previous period (19601975) on factors which foreign capital cannot and will not bring to or build in host countries and which must be created and built indigenously.

Keywords : Foreign direct investment; market structures; industrial policy; Brazil.

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