Japanese Aid as a Prerequisite for FDI: The Case of Southeast Asian Countries

Séverine Blaise
JEL codes: 
Asia Pacific Economic Paper No. 385

This study investigates the nexus between Japans official development assistance and foreign direct investment inflows in Southeast Asian countries. An analysis of the geographical and sectoral decomposition of aid flows reveals that assistance programs were mainly allocated in the form of loans for economic infrastructure projects. This orientation attests that the needs of the recipient country are taken into account but also reveals that it is in keeping with a return on investment. Conditional logit analysis shows that Japanese aid flows did have a significant positive impact on private investors location choice even though other profit-maximising factors such as agglomeration effects or the quality of infrastructure had a leading spill-over effect. In a context of growing scarcity of aid funding, the study concludes by asserting the importance of a complementary process in which foreign aid is directed towards the development of infrastructure, acting as a pre-requisite for future direct investments. Finally, Japan providing an interesting case study, we will stress the need for a better cooperation between the public and private sectors in development assistance programs.