• All Purchases made this month instantly go into the draw to win a USD $ 100.00 credit to your HoP account.
 

Forums > Social Discussion > Free Trade is a good thing

Login/Join to Participate

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:Right you bunch of fuzzy thinking hippy idealists. It's time to stop pretending that that the world's problems are the result of some rich world conspiracy.

Multinational coorperations are by enlarge good (excepting Nestle and Union Carbide).

The W.T.O. is fighting a just cause albeit somewhat ineffectualy.

N.A.F.T.A. is good.

Free trade is a good thing. The problem with the world today is that we don't have enough of it. Trade is the fastest route to prosperity and amoung LEDC's (in the awful P.C. language of today) the most open economies grow the fastest. We foget today that China was on a par with in th 1950's. In Korea, Taiwan, and China growth was very much export driven, Africa by contrast exports and imports very little. Blaming third world poverty on trade simply makes no sense. Free trade is like being able to carry something you're good at making to the border and change it for something you're bad at making. How great is that?

This trade is bad for the world, trade makes rich countries richer and poor countries poorer stuff is nonsense. It seems to me to have grown from an understandable search for countries and entities to blame for the state of the third world and Africa in particular. It seems wrong to blame African countries, it is distasteful to blame the victim for his illness so rich countries must be somehow to blame. There is a general feeling that the rich world built the system so the system must be bias towards them. The system that the rich world built that does the most to keep Africa in poverty is the system of tariffs and agricultural subsidies. Free trade is an attempt to dismantle this.

We should be picketing every W.T.O. meeting demanding more action.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete Topic

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:well, i *kind of* agree with you; free trade would be good...

except we don't have free trade. and the WTO and NAFTA do not promote proper 'free trade'. if anything, the EEA is better at it (as shown by the rapid rise in growth and standard of living in the newest and poorest members) but calling free trade an attempt to dismantle poverty is one of the most ridiculous things i have ever read. tariffs and subsidies are not what has created the debts of poorer countries - it is high interest rate loans( so that poorer countries can 'freely trade' with richer ones) that are responsible for the vast majority of debt in developing countries.

the free trade you are talking about is so riddled with corruption that it ceases to become FT. and so many deals struck using the concept of FT as promoted by nafta and wto and other such organisations have so many caveats and conditions that they cease to become FT.

in many ways your argument is like a much older one - that communism is good. well, it is, but there is no way humanly possible (as found yet) to do it in the way it was intended. and i don't beleive that there is a way for FT to actually work out in its intended way - human greed will always beat human ideals, it would seem.

so, FT could be ok, if a way could be found to do it following the ideals of FT but until the rich and greedy people stop abusing it, it will never be fair, which is much more important.

and i have to take a massive stance against your statement that multinationals are good - any corporate system that takes the power to make people lives better out of the hands of the people and into the hands of the few, who just happen to have started off rich (in most cases) is flawed. yes, some multinationals do promote good practise, and some were started from and continue to be genuine enterprise (as opposed to bulldozing tactics) but unfortunately they are few and far between.

MNCs have some positives for them, yes -
they allow people to buy things they wouldn't otherwise have access to
they provide jobs, for a LOT of people
they promote 'free' trade


but IMO they are hugely outweighed by the negatives -
on the whole they exploit workers and line the pockets of a very few people
they ruin local trade (don't get me started on this one....)and therefore play a large role in cultural destruction and unemployment
they have huge power to destroy livelihoods - even in richer nations such as the uk (just ask most farmers who work for tesco)
they have very little legal responsibility (how can a company that illegally destroys the livelihoods of many millions of people happily make billions of pounds profit *ahem*exxon*ahem*, amongst many others)
they are fantastically good at tax avoidance. woooh!
they foce cash-crop growing, ruining ecosystems and eventually creating desertification (kenya, amongst many others)

i am not a fuzzy thinking hippy idealist, thank you very much. i just so happen to believe that the way our system is being run is wrong. corruption is endemic, and the poor are mistreated by the rich. am i naive to think that that is wrong? i don't have answers; but i sure as hell don't think that corrupt MNCs and a poor mockery of free trade are the way forward.


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

Stout
SILVER Member since May 2004

Stout

Pooh-Bah
Location: Canada

Total posts: 1872
Posted: Written by

human greed will always beat human ideals, it would seem.



In my experience, 99.9% of the time I've found that to be true however I do find it interesting to see that said by the one person who in both IRL and the online community actually lives his ideology.

Cheers Rob, I read your Missouri thread.


Delete

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:Tariffs and subsidies do an enormous amount to keep the poor world poor. Africa is a mainly agricultural producer. In the west we (both the E.U. and America) give enormous agricultural subsidies that support overproduction and depress world prices. This makes it very hard for Africa to export any crops. If we could abolish agricultural subsidies or at least decouple them from production (on which there has been some progress in the E.U.) then African produce would be much more competitive and would fetch a higher price.

In order to import technology and machinery without taking on debt Africa needs to trade and by using subsidies to flood agricultural markets we prevent that from happening.

In what ways do NAFTA and the WTO fail to promote "proper" free trade? The W.T.O. just does it very badly and very slowly but thats the price you pay for having a global organization. So many members with so many different objectives makes for beurocracy and inertia, but it's better than nothing and better than a small organization where some members just dictate terms.

You say deals are struck with so many caveats and conditions that they are no longer free trade and I agree, but deals being struck at all is progress. It would be worse if there were no deals and each country were able to arbitrarily impose tariffs and restrictions.

Imagine we were to ban trade. Would that help anyone?
If we built a wall around Africa and nothing came in or out would the world be a better place?

You say that we will never achieve free trade. Free trade is like perfect competition, it's an idea that you can aim for.

Fair trade will never save the world. Who determines "fair" if not the forces of supply and demand? Fair trade amounts to buying a good and simultaneously giving a small charitable donation to a project. Laudable indeed but fair trade is charity and we shouldn't forget that.

For a while the price of coffee beans dropped below the cost of production. Coffee farmers were working all year and making a loss. This was because of over-production, there were simply too many people growing coffee. If you decide that you want to support this state of affairs then you create a sector dependent on subsidies and hand-outs, and you might find you have a lot of excess coffee that nobody wants on your hands.

This is why the E.U. turns wine into industrial alcohol.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:Economics is not a zero sum game.

This is not a world where everyone is fighting for their slice and greedy rich countries can grab a larger piece of the pie. A richer third world would enrich us all. See how China growing out of poverty and coming of age as an industrial economy has helped keep prices down here in the west?

A richer Africa would enrich us all. Greed and ideals need not be in conflict.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:so, there was no response there to how MNCs are good, or not, but here we go nonetheless....

 Written by :Mascot


Tariffs and subsidies do an enormous amount to keep the poor world poor. Africa is a mainly agricultural producer. In the west we (both the E.U. and America) give enormous agricultural subsidies that support overproduction and depress world prices. This makes it very hard for Africa to export any crops. If we could abolish agricultural subsidies or at least decouple them from production (on which there has been some progress in the E.U.) then African produce would be much more competitive and would fetch a higher price.





i didn't say that subsidised agriculture doesn't play a part, but most of the original debt comes from much earlier misgovernment and exploitation (mostly dating to european rule, or shortly after). in fact, your beloved MNCs played, and continue to play a HUGE part in creating deals where the majority of a developing countries' wealth ends up elsewhere. way to go. susidised goods help keep it that way, but played very little part in the original debts.

 Written by



In what ways do NAFTA and the WTO fail to promote "proper" free trade? The W.T.O. just does it very badly and very slowly but thats the price you pay for having a global organization. So many members with so many different objectives makes for beurocracy and inertia, but it's better than nothing and better than a small organization where some members just dictate terms.

You say deals are struck with so many caveats and conditions that they are no longer free trade and I agree, but deals being struck at all is progress. It would be worse if there were no deals and each country were able to arbitrarily impose tariffs and restrictions.




deals have been being struck, both honestly and corruptly since year X. anything that increases the bureaucracy and enables endemic corruption, such as the WTO, is IMO a hindrance to that. the WTO sells itself as a liberaliser of trade, an arbiter for trade, and a forum for discussion. truly free trade would need no such body. If anything, free trade should only require the middle one of those - an arbiter on deals - but unfortunately in its role as the other two, it has become simply a place for rich people to make the rules.

NAFTA automatically prioritizes three countries. So within a certain area, free trade is achieved. kind of. it works. kind of. but it is not free trade. it is regio-specific trade. and, as you so rightly point out, in global terms, it is a bad thing to have a 'small organization where some members just dictate terms'.

 Written by


Imagine we were to ban trade. Would that help anyone?
If we built a wall around Africa and nothing came in or out would the world be a better place?




????? where did that come from?

 Written by


You say that we will never achieve free trade. Free trade is like perfect competition, it's an idea that you can aim for.



the idea of free trade is a brilliant one - that if i have something, i have the right to sell it to anyone, and anyone has the right to buy it from me. I engage in it all the time - i sell my performance/teaching abilities, and people pay me well for them smile i earn a living wage, and want for very little. if someone poor asks me for my services, i tend to discount my rates and make it happen. if it really can't be afforded, or i don't like the company trying to hire me, i don't do it. that is free trade.

but the MNC way is not free trade. sorry, but it just isn't. show me 5 examples of MNCs promoting truly free trade, and not profiteering at the expense of others, and i'll perhaps concede a little. I'm all for people having something of value and exchanging it for something else of value, but what most companies are doing is inflating the cost of their goods beyond the means of those most in need, in order to create profit - which forces debt, which is surely the antithesis of truly free trade.

 Written by


Fair trade will never save the world. Who determines "fair" if not the forces of supply and demand? Fair trade amounts to buying a good and simultaneously giving a small charitable donation to a project. Laudable indeed but fair trade is charity and we shouldn't forget that.




i was not saying anything about the brand 'Fair trade', so lets not even go there. i'll take an example for what i mean by fairness, and further my argument against MNCs;

Nike:
$2.2bn profit in 2007
Chief executive in 2007, Mark Parker earned a salary of $1.14 million
Nike Soccer ball stitchers in India receive between US$0.57 and US$0.65 for each ball they stitch. This piece rate hasnt changed in five years even though local inflation rates run at ~8%.

Nike say they are working to eradicate sweatshop conditions. but clearly not very hard, as they have been saying the same thing for many, many years.

and that segment of 'trade', whichever way you look at it, is not fair. if you can honestly say that you think this is a good state of affairs then i'm actually not prepared to continue this discussion, sorry.

as for the rule of supply and demand - well, firstly there is the whole subsidy thing, which makes a mockery of S +D, and secondly, deals which are blatantly one-sided (such as the exclusivity deals that many MNCs demand when entering developing countries) are not about supply and demand. they are bullying, pure and simple. so, while locally and in some instances on a wider scale, S+D does work, globally the concept of of pure supply and demand just is another lovely ideal manipulated by those with power and money, along with truly free trade.

 Written by



For a while the price of coffee beans dropped below the cost of production. Coffee farmers were working all year and making a loss. This was because of over-production, there were simply too many people growing coffee. If you decide that you want to support this state of affairs then you create a sector dependent on subsidies and hand-outs, and you might find you have a lot of excess coffee that nobody wants on your hands.





er. no. the reason people were making a loss was because they were growing to much coffee, and therefore the price dropped, right? and why was that? MNCs forced many people to change from food production to cash crop production, and then made the mistake of growing too much. clever eh? now you may say that people have the choice to grow what they want, but it simply isn't true - put a large cash payment in front of a poor subsistence farmer and say 'i'll pay you this if you start growing coffee' and they will take it. And then when there is too much coffee? until the advent of 'fair trade', there was no support whatsoever for those duped by MNCs. worse still, after single crop growth for many years, vast tracts of land accross the world have become unworkable without huge amounts of chemical fertiliser being used, thus creating yet another chain of dependence to the MNCs. And so, countries that did not have a huge GDP but where everyone lived quite happily, with enough food and reasonable standards of living... are now entirely dependent on charity and the whims of MNCs.

all sounds just rosy, and like those MNCs are really doing everyone a good turn, doesn't it?


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:umm "Greed and ideals need not be in conflict"...?

"China growing out of poverty and coming of age as an industrial economy has helped keep prices down here in the west?"

"Africa is a mainly agricultural producer."

Now I definitely would like to ask you to please quote your sources... wink


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted: Written by :Mascot


This is not a world where everyone is fighting for their slice and greedy rich countries can grab a larger piece of the pie





eek
yes, yes it is. if thats truly what you beleive, you will end up being horribly screwed over by someone more pragmatic than you, i'm afraid.

 Written by


. A richer third world would enrich us all. See how China growing out of poverty and coming of age as an industrial economy has helped keep prices down here in the west?

A richer Africa would enrich us all.



um. yes? first of all, lets not even begin to talk of working conditions and human rights in china, as i think they are being well documented somewhere else....

but of course a richer africa would enrich is all - its just that relying on the very people who created a poorer africa to just turn it around by allowing them to exploit deals with already debt ridden countries is not the way forward.

botswana is a very good case of how allowing proper free trade (where the people who have the resources actually own them!*) can create a richer Africa. Botswana has the best credit rating of any African country, and very little foreign debt. why? because the country owns a 50% stake in the (botswanan) company running the diamond mines. Unfortunately, in most cases in Africa, any large and profitable resource is run by a European or American company - stand up and take a bow; Shell, De Beers, BP, Exxon, any number of logging comanies etcetcetc...




*this appears to be an unusual idea for those who promote 'free trade'


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted: Written by :Stout


 Written by

human greed will always beat human ideals, it would seem.



In my experience, 99.9% of the time I've found that to be true however I do find it interesting to see that said by the one person who in both IRL and the online community actually lives his ideology.

Cheers Rob, I read your Missouri thread.



frown i speak from a lot of experience of trying to change the world through my own actions, but when you get an environmentally conscious and eco-crusading lovely hippy who says 'oooh! i can fly to barcelona for 2!' you tend to get a bit jaded....

but thank you redface


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

Chelly
SILVER Member since Mar 2006

Chelly

Niraffe
Location: Up north, Scotland (UK)

Total posts: 884
Posted: Written by :bluecat


....when you get an environmentally conscious and eco-crusading lovely hippy who says 'oooh! i can fly to barcelona for 2!' you tend to get a bit jaded....




ditto And thus the main reason this Chelly hasn't been travelling....costs a heck of a lot of money to do it without flying.

And, slightly more back on topic, it's a heck of a lot of money to support local farmers as well - even up here where we're surrounded by them. Thankfully I've managed to get my parents (mostly) onto my side, and they pick up the bill.

Oh for my own plot of land.... *sigh*


"Lots of beeping. And shaking and tinfoil." Chelly

"Are you sure it's a genuine test and not a robot heroin addict?" Cantus

---set free by the rather lovely FireTom---
--(right arm owned by Fyre)--

Delete

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:Wow



pretty strident stuff



The W.T.O. is a place for the rich world to make the rules. Free trade is good but the W.T.O. gets in the way. If you were to remove the W.T.O. and rip up NAFTA and disband the Europen Single Market and all the other agreements then we wouldn't have any of those bothersome rules that got in the way. This is a bizarre view given that before the W.T.O. and GATT and all the treaties we have today tariff barriers were higher. Without the W.T.O. and the international trade agreements trade wars would be rife and barriers to trade more onerous.



It is helpful to think of a world without trade to realize what a great thing trade is. Sometimes carrying a view to it's logical conclusion can show how ridiculous it is. If less free trade is always better than no trade at all would be best.



NAFTA is indeed regional and indeed regional and bi-lateral treaties are proliferating at the expense of the W.T.O. most favored nation principle. This reflects how hard it is to get things done in the W.T.O.



These bi-lateral deals are helpful in removing restrictions to trade too, indeed if everyone had a bi-lateral deal with everyone else then that would be it, job done, we can all go home.



Subsidies deny Africa export markets so it can clear it's debts. Any way you look at it if Africa is going to advance it needs foreign currency and the only way Africa is going to get foreign currency (to clear debts or buy capital) is by exporting. Unless of course you advocate taking on more debt.



Low barriers to trade are correlated with gdp growth.



http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5411/is_199904/ai_n21440290/pg_1



But more importantly low barriers to trade have a large synergy effect.



I didn't really want to get into a rant about MNCs, it wasn't in the title of the thread and I allotted them only one sentence in my original post. The belief that MNCs do tremendous damage to the world is overblown.



Right



The charge against MNCs is mainly that they exploit poor workers and get fat profit margins. The spectacle is unedifying I will admit. If however we banned Nike from employing cheap labor would we be doing poorer countries a favor? No, the factories would close, Nike would produce closer to it's markets and there would be fewer employment opportunities in poorer countries.



I can almost hear the sound of Rob exploding. Employment opportunities?? we're talking about less than a dollar to stitch a football. Why do people do it then, nobody forces them (and if they did it would be very wrong). The fact is that there may not be any alternative. If the profit margins are so big why aren't more companies doing it and raising the price of labor? This is exactly what is happening. You hear of sweatshops producing textiles in China and India, not in Africa. China was much more receptive to foreign trade and foreign multinationals. China and India have achieved stellar growth and are entering higher technology business now. China has moved 150 million people out of poverty. (U.N. statistics)



Working conditions are not good and pollution is a problem, but I think most people would allow the Chinese are better off now than they were and better off than the average man in a central African or Latin American country.



The industrial revolution in England was not pretty. Children worked the textile mills, and swept chimneys. A similar thing (though much faster) is happening in China. If this is what it takes to eradicate poverty then so be it.



I am not going to say that multi-national cooperations do only good in the world or that they are blameless. We are however better off with them than without them.



Africa's problems are mainly self-inflicted. Corruption, mismanagement and civil war have kept Africa poor. Multinationals cooperations in Africa are mainly concerned with exploiting the raw materials. This is fine and should be a welcome source of income. The problem is that the money doesn't get very far beyond the ruling elite. The fact is that to gain any benefit from it's raw materials Africa needs western expertise, and that means multi-national companies. These companies have something to offer Africa. Would African companies have shown more responsibility, and achieved more?



If there were no multinational companies in Africa I posit that Africa would be poorer still. This is not to exonerate them from blame for their failings and mistakes. Some mistakes (like encouraging the overproduction of coffee Rob alledges, I am unfamiliar with the involvement of any MNC in this) carried an economic cost but some problems like dealing with corrupt politicians and causing pollution do not and these are the concerning problems that we would be justified in protesting about.



We shouldn't be distracted however from the important role that MNCs have to play.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:ubblol

on overnight reflection i actually think we are debating at cross purposes and on slightly (but vitally important) different topics.

which is probably my mistake, as it is your topic.

i'll have a think and maybe do a shorter reply, but i'm not sure i see a huge amount of value in continuing without clarification.

biggrin and hug (i do love a good, well thought out debate)


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:"Multinationals cooperations in Africa are mainly concerned with exploiting the raw materials."



"Africa is a mainly agricultural producer."



Dunno but I can't find you backing up your thesis with solid facts... I agree that Africa's problems are very much self inflicted by mismanagement, corruption, civil war and their own people. If there's anyone able to help Africa it would be the West by refusing to accept ex-dictator's Dollars or appeals for (political) asylum/ exile, stopping to supply arms to said dictators and regimes and by restricting companies like Shell or de Beers (just to name two) to involve themselves in bloody business...



If we were to ban companies like Nike from employing cheap labor we greatly help our own economy to keep up with inflating prices. It's NOT that living costs in the West diminish or stagnate due to globalism - but it's a fact that at the same time jobs (or payment thereof) get less. So by putting up import taxes (which IMO are far too low to compensate the damage done) and quotas, governments (to the most minimal degree) are simply protecting the local industry.



Remember that we don't feed simply on a bowl of rice and some Dal fry, that laborers in the West fought fierce battles to actually be treated as human beings and further that for a great political struggle we only now slow down the impact on the environment.



The thesis that less regulation will improve conditions has proven itself to be highly erroneous. China depends on slave labor, rape of (its) natural resources, cheap copies/ low quality products and the support of civil war elsewhere. India is not too far away from the same policies, yet by "democratic" means...



Generally glorifying/hailing multi-national companies and their policies (to me) appears like a pinhole outlook on economy, ecology, politics and is abolishing reason.



No personal attack or offense intended, simply my personal opinion smile

EDITED_BY: FireTom (1210068145)


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

Delete

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:Protecting local industry is indeed what we are doing but at what cost?



At a cost to the consumer who must pay more to buy things from inefficient local producer and at a cost to developing countries. The fact is that it makes no sense to produce labor intensive goods in the west anymore. We should (and have been) concentrating on higher end businesses that require the more educated workforce we posses such as finance, high technology and research and development intensive industries.



It's difficult when jobs move overseas and it's very visible and politically sensitive.The same thing happens when a new technology is invented. When the Spinning Jenny was developed people smashed them (Luddites) because they claimed they were putting weavers out of work. When people are put out of work from one sector they need support and help from a welfare state but ultimately the world economy produces more. We should allow people to be put out of work by globalisation, provide them with the training and state help they need to move into industries where we remain competitive. The laws of economics prevent all work from moving offshore, in the long run exports must balance imports and the exchange rate will move until this is so.



Think of trade as a marvelous machine that magically turns things you are good at making into things you are bad at making. Wanting to raise import barriers to save jobs is like wanting to put sand in the gears of this machine.



This thinking would have us still weaving cloth by hand.





quote:

If we were to ban companies like Nike from employing cheap labor we greatly help our own economy to keep up with inflating prices.





If we were to ban Nike from employing cheap labor then Nike shoes would be more expensive. This causes rising prices.



The thesis that less regulation will improve conditions has proven itself to be highly erroneous. China depends on slave labor, rape of (its) natural resources, cheap copies/ low quality products and the support of civil war elsewhere. India is not too far away from the same policies, yet by "democratic" means...



Right labor conditions in China are bad, and I'm not going to support the Chinese government internationally, but I can also see progress. China is richer now than it was is growing at some 9-10% a year. 9-10 % a year.....just think about that for a moment. Every year China produces 10% more. Environmental and labor improvements will follow greater prosperity. The transition from an agrarian economy with many subsistence farmers to a modern economy does not involve all the agricultural laborers putting on suits, walking off the land and taking well paid jobs in the services sector. There is a transition period.



We should continue to pressure China to improve it's human rights and behave better internationally but we should also recognize the progress that has been made and we should recognize that integration with the global economy not isolation is the best way to defeat poverty.



Rob:

We have indeed been talking across purposes. You see the undoubted problems with todays world and want to help which is great. I am concerned that there is a fashion for condemning free trade, it's harbinger the W.T.O. and multinationals, it's advanced guard. Some criticism is undoubtedly warranted but it's grown into a general backlash against globalisation, and I feel that much criticism of multi-nationals misses the point. We are in danger of getting our priorities and tactics wrong.



It is simply not true that free trade makes the rich world richer and the poor world poorer.

EDITED_BY: Mascot (1210106279)


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete

Mascot


Mascot

enthusiast


Total posts: 301
Posted:On sources I recon I'm 2-nil up having sourced a massive 2 statements.



I agree that more sources and more facts would be desirable for an informed conversation so I spent a little while on google.



It was remarkably hard to get a breakdown by sector of African production and trade.



Statistics are easier to find on a per-country basis, but I don't really want to get drawn into a detailed case by case discussion.



Still a few figures;



Somalia production by sector (wikipedia)



GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 65%

industry: 10%

services: 25% (2000 est.



Exports - commodities: livestock, bananas, hides, fish, charcoal, scrap metal



http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/malawi/structure-of-economy.html



Malawi statistics

Value Added (% of GDP) 2004

Agriculture 38.9

Industry 17.2

Services, etc. 44.0





http://www.tanzania.go.tz

Tanzania government statistics

Agriculture is the largest share at 45%

Manufacturing, construction and mining account for 15%



These are some of the poorest countries. It should be clear that agricultural production dominates manufacturing and is also larger than services (except in Malawi and then only narrowly). I was surprised to see services constituted a larger share than agriculture in Malawi and is only a little smaller in Tanzania. I think that services encompasses mainly small store holders and is not likely to provide much in the way of exports, with the obvious exception of tourism (which gains foreign currency so can be considered an export).



When I said Africa was a mainly agricultural producer I meant as opposed to manufacturing. I was talking about what Africa was likely to export.



As to multinationals being mainly interested in the raw materials I am not going to attempt to source this. It is not really important to my argument, nor has anyone disagreed with me. A multi-national company is presumably any company operating in more than one country. I know of no attempt to keep track of the all companies operating in more than one country much less break down their commercial interests by sector.



I had an idea that most multinationals in Africa were in the business of extracting raw materials, the mining, logging and oil industries in particular. You yourself Tom mention De Beers and Shell.


Walls may have ears but they don't have eyes

Delete

bluecat


bluecat

geek, level 1
Location: everywhere

Total posts: 5300
Posted:so;

I've gone away, done some reading (starting with an anti-free trade book, Naomi Kleins 'the Shock Doctrine', finishing up with 7 days on-off reading the WTO website, with a lot of articles and looking up references in between...

and i've totally changed my opinion. kind of.

i no longer think global free trade in our current climate is a good thing, except for a very, very small percentage of people. each and every country that has removed the 'barriers' to free trade (social spending, nationalized and regulated industry, subsidies) has created a much larger wealth imbalance than there was before. in 16 out of 20 countries profiled in one article where 'free trade' was introduced, it had to be introduced by enforced subjugation of the population. how nice.

in fact, it would appear that most of the wars in our recent history have been fought in the name of 'free trade'. including iraq (go and look at the directorships held by the committee charged with defence policy in the lead up to the initial attacks, and then at the 'reconstruction contracts' - all handed out to american/british companies under the guise of 'free trade'.

fortunately, many countries have recovered somewhat from their free trade experiments, and are reaching levels of mass prosperity and reduction of debt only seen before these experiments began. (chile, argentina, etc)

free trade is dying, long live democratic socialism.


tongue


Holistic Spinner (I hope)

Delete

bender
GOLD Member since Nov 2001

still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Total posts: 6979
Posted:fair trade is a good thing,
free trade is not always a good thing.

lower export barriers could increase the carbon emission impact from too much gear being sent 'round the world for needs that would otherwise have been fulfilled with local/regional supply.

the exception of course is with buugeng, star wars memorabilia and left socks.


Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always

Delete

FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:ubblol I agree, Bender - there are exceptions to both ends of the argument. Buugeng definitely are a pair of them...

How long will we (economically) be able to afford free trade? The CO argument definitely is an important one.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

Delete