Competition policy, corporate saving and China's current account surplus

Vol: 
21/2008
Author name: 
Tyers R
Lu F
Year: 
2008
Month: 
July
Abstract: 

China’s industrial reforms have left many key industries dominated by few, often state owned, firms. Until recently, these firms were not required to pay dividends to the state and the post-2000 surge in growth made them very profitable, with their economic profits adding corporate saving amounting to a fifth of GDP. This bolstered China’s overall saving-investment gap and hence its controversial current account surplus. In other countries, oligopolistic industries tend to be taxed more heavily and they are commonly subjected to price regulation. This study offers an economy-wide analysis of approaches to oligopoly rents in China. The results suggest that, while policy changes targeting national saving, including increased corporate taxation, expansionary fiscal policy and SOE privatisation all help to control the external imbalance, they tend also to turn demand inward, inducing higher oligopoly rents and slower growth. Competition policy, embodying both price cap regulation and free entry, proves more effective both in controlling the external imbalance and in fostering continued growth.

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