FDI inflows and export quality: Domestic competition and within-firm adjustment

Qing LIU, Larry D. QIU*, Chaoqun ZHAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Product quality is widely regarded as an important determinant for economic development. This paper investigates whether horizontal foreign direct investment (FDI) improves or deteriorates the quality of domestic firms’ exports. We use China’s FDI regulation changes in 2002 as an instrument variable (IV) for FDI penetration in China to identify the causal impact and introduce a theoretical model to rationalize our empirical work. We find that FDI inflows exert a significantly negative effect on Chinese firms’ export quality. The mechanism of the negative effect is that FDI intensifies the domestic market competition, which induces within-firm adjustment of product mix and lowers domestic firms’ incentive to invest in the quality of new products. In particular, while domestic firms drop some existing products and introduce new products, they invest less in the quality of new products and maintain the quality of continuing products.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103293
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Early online date3 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

We benefitted from discussions with Costas Arkolakis, Cheng Chen, Micheal Zheng Song, Hongsong Zhang, Yifan Zhang, and participants of the 2021 HKU Trade and Development Workshop. We thank the editor and referees for their very helpful comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier B.V.


  • Chinese firms
  • Competition
  • Foreign direct investment
  • New product
  • Product quality

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