The relationship between foreign direct investment (FDI), trade openness and economic growth in host countries remains one of the most important issues in the economic literature and met with renewed interest in recent years mainly for countries suffering from unemployment problems and lack of technological progress. This paper examines this issue for Tunisia by applying the bounds testing (ARDL) approach to cointegration for the period from 1970 to 2008. The bounds tests suggest that the variables of interest are bound together in the long run when foreign direct investment is the dependent variable. The associated equilibrium correction is also significant, confirming the existence of a long-run relationship. The results also indicate that there is no significant Granger causality from FDI to economic growth, from economic growth to FDI, from trade to economic growth and from economic growth to trade in the short run. Even though there is a widespread belief that FDI can generate positive spillover externalities for the host country, our empirical results fail to confirm this belief for the case of Tunisia. They go against the generally accepted idea considering the positive impact of FDI on economic growth to be automatic. The results found for Tunisia can be generalized and compared to other developing countries which share a common experience in attracting FDI and trade liberalization.
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