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Accepted Paper:

Choose France or Invest in Guinea? Competing for Foreign Investment as a Mode of Regulation  
Gustav Kalm (Sciences Po)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on the examples of France and Guinea, I show how making countries into attractive investment destinations recalibrates political authority through a scalar imaginary where domestic political configurations need to correspond to imagined desires of mobile capital.

Paper Abstract:

One of the main consequences of the 1990s state reform was to reconceptualize states as attractive vessels for foreign capital. Capital controls were loosened in the 1980s, investment protection was expanded in the 1990s and at the turn of millennium, most countries opened investment attraction agencies. More than the rise of regulatory capitalism (Braithwaite 2008), the millennial logic where economic development (for periphery) or growth (for core) were to be achieved primarily by attracting more foreign investment worked also as a regulatory force recalibrating state policy. Based on the examples of France and Guinea, I show how making countries into attractive investment destinations recalibrates political authority through a scalar imaginary where domestic political configurations need to correspond to imagined desires of mobile capital.

Guinea’s postcolonial leader Sékou Touré lambasted imperialism but at the same time invited foreign capital to Guinea already in the 1960s. After structural adjustment programs, new specialized investment attraction agencies advertised Guinea in 2002 as “a virgin territory awaiting your investments.” Although France had been a major capital exporter during high imperialism, its position to foreign capital was far more modest in the second half of the twentieth century. From criticizing the “American Challenge” in 1960s, French bureaucrats became some of the key agents pushing for international capital account liberalization in the 1990s. At the turn of century, campaigns like “Choose France” and startup nation sought to recalibrate France as an attractive destination criticized by some as “a cargo cult” obsession with foreign capital.

Panel P146
Doing and undoing regulation
  Session 2 Tuesday 23 July, 2024, -