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Source Country Characteristics and the Inflow of Foreign Direct Investment into Saudi Arabia

By Barbara M. Roberts and Abdulaziz Almahmood


The paper examines the impact of source country characteristics on the inflow of FDI into Saudi Arabia using a gravity-type model including economic, distance and socio-political variables. A unique database listing all new investments involving foreign ownership is used to construct a panel of 33 countries in the period 1980–2005. To account for many country–year observations with zero FDI, the negative binomial regression, the Tobit regression and the Heckman selection procedure are used. The conclusions drawn from the analysis employing panel-based techniques differ from the results obtained from pooled regression models. Also, the determinants of FDI differ depending on whether foreign investment is measured in terms of investment expenditure or the number of individual foreign projects. The Heckman selection results reveal that there are a large number of factors affecting the decision to invest in Saudi Arabia, compared with relatively few determinants of the actual size of investment. Traditional size and distance characteristics hold to a great extent but the relationship between FDI and bilateral trade is unclear and there is some evidence that the countries that export to Saudi Arabia do not invest there. In terms of scope for possible spillovers, there is mixed evidence on whether the investment comes from more technologically advanced economies but volume-wise important investments originate from countries characterised by high income per capita

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1467-9701.2009.01205.x
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9204

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