Transnational Corporations (Globalization)

GLOBALISATION AND EMPLOYMENT: New opportunities, real threats (from OneWorld). Excerpts:

"Worldwide 27 million people, 90 per cent of them women, now work in the export processing zones (EPZs) set up to take advantage of globalisation. Many of them are employed by transnational corporations (TNCs). Already by 1994 TNCs employed 12 million people in the developing world, and today they employ many more.

"Yet these numbers are tiny when compared to the one billion people around the world who cannot find full-time work. Indeed, although they are responsible for 70 per cent of world trade and 80 per cent of foreign investment, TNCs directly employ only three per cent of the world’s labour force, "a negligible proportion", as one UN agency describes it...

"The globalisation of trade has largely resulted from successive rounds of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations, held from 1948 onwards, and in particular the most recent, the Uruguay Round, held from 1986 to 1994...

"The World Trade Organization (WTO) was created by the Uruguay Round of GATT and came into being on 1 January 1995. The WTO has three main functions: to help trade flow as freely as possible; to achieve further trade... the WTO has become a major focus of protest from critics of globalisation. Its second Ministerial Conference, in May 1998, was the scene of mass demonstrations as an estimated 10,000 protestors from North and South gathered in Geneva under the banner of Peoples’ Global Action to voice opposition to "the devastating social and environmental effects of globalisation, promoted by WTO and other institutions catering to the interests of transnational capital"...

"Another key characteristic of late 20th century globalisation concerns the main actors responsible for its development. Rather than national governments, TNCs are the driving force behind globalisation, generating 70 per cent of all world trade and 80 per cent of all foreign direct investment.

"In the globalisation of financial markets, institutional investors have joined banks and companies as major players. The main institutional investors are mutual funds, speculative ‘hedge’ funds and pension funds (schemes managed on behalf of investors in order to bring them returns on their investment). Already by 1991 the top 100 US, European and Japanese pension funds managed almost US$8 trillion between them, around a third of global income.

Corporations and Human Rights (from Human Rights Watch). Excerpts:

"American oil companies have argued that they are not responsible for human rights or that they improve rights simply through conducting business. But Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum don't think so and have done more than their American counterparts in the energy business to respect human rights.

But some lag far behind. Take the example of the Enron Corporation, a Houston-based conglomerate which is making the largest single foreign investment in India. It owns 50 percent of the Dabhol Power Corporation (together with Bechtel, General Electric, and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board), which is building the biggest private power plant in the world.

Innocent people were beaten up and arrested on trumped up charges, sometimes outside the very gates of Enron's power plant, because they were demonstrating against what they believe are the plant's adverse effects on the local environment and economy."

Please send comments to: Colby Glass, MLIS

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