Vertical and Horizontal FDI Technology Spillovers: Evidence from Thai Manufacturing
This paper examines Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) spillover, using an unbalanced panel data set of the manufacturing survey of Thailand during the period 2001-03. In this paper, not only are both horizontal and vertical FDI technology spillovers examined, but the former is also assumed to vary across industries. The key hypothesis is that horizontal FDI spillovers depend on the trade policy regime as well as the absorptive capability of locally owned plants. Our panel data econometric analysis highlights the important role of the trade policy regime as a conditional gain of horizontal FDI spillovers. In particular, positive horizontal FDI spillovers are found only in an industry operating in a relatively liberal environment. Interestingly, imposing an assumption of identical horizontal FDI spillovers across industry could result in biased estimates of vertical FDI spillovers. The key policy inference highlights the relative importance of the trade policy regime in harnessing the gain from foreign presence. Liberalizing the foreign investment regime thus has to go hand in hand with liberalizing the trade policy to gain FDI technology spillovers. Our finding here gives a warning not to overemphasize the role of linkages. It is the quality rather than magnitude of linkages that should be used a proxy of the magnitude of vertical FDI spillovers.