(en) Corporate Globalization Factsheet

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Tue, 16 Dec 1997 10:10:37 +0000

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/* ---------- "Corporate Globalization Factsheet" ---------- */

Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network --------------------------------------------------------------------- ## author : corpwatch@igc.org ## date : 03.12.97 --------------------------------------------------------------------- Facts From the Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization

Fact Sheet Number One -- Corporate Globalization

Transnational corporations--companies which operate in more than one country at a time--have become some of the most powerful economic and political entities in the world today.

Corporations and Governments

Many corporations have more power than the nation-states across whose borders they operate. For instance:

The combined revenues of just General Motors and Ford--the two largest automobile corporations in the world--exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for all of sub-Saharan Africa.

The combined sales of Mitsubishi, Mitsui, ITOCHU, Sumitomo, Marubeni, and Nissho Iwai, Japan's top six Sogo Sosha or trading companies, are nearly equivalent to the combined GDP of all of South America.

Overall, fifty-one of the largest one-hundred economies in the world are corporations.

The revenues of the top 500 corporations in the U.S. equal about 60 percent of the country's GDP.

Transnational corporations hold ninety percent of all technology and product patents worldwide.

Transnational corporations are involved in 70 percent of world trade. More than thirty percent of this trade is "intra- firm"; in other words, it occurs between units of the same corporation.

How Many Are There?

The number of transnational corporations in the world has jumped from 7,000 in 1970 to 40,000 in 1995.

While ever-more global in reach, these corporations' home bases are concentrated in the Northern industrialized countries, where ninety percent of all transnationals are based.

More than half come from just five nations--France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and the United States.

Despite their growing numbers, power is concentrated at the top. For instance, the three hundred largest corporations account for one-quarter of the world's productive assets.

What Do They Do All Day?

Described by the United Nations as "the productive core of the globalizing world economy," these corporations and their 250,000 foreign affiliates account for most of the world's industrial capacity, technological knowledge and international financial transactions.

They mine, refine and distribute most of the world's oil, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

They build most of the world's oil, coal, gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants.

They extract most of the world's minerals from the ground.

They manufacture and sell most of the world's automobiles, airplanes, communications satellites, computers, home electronics, chemicals, medicines and biotechnology products.

They harvest much of the world's wood and make most of its paper.

They grow many of the world's agricultural crops, while processing and distributing much of its food.

Given their dominance of politics, economics and technology, it is not surprising to find the big transnationals deeply involved in most of the world's serious environmental crises (see Fact Sheet #2).

Corporations and the Politics of Globalization

Transnational corporations exert significant influence over the domestic and foreign policies of the Northern industrialized government that host them. Indeed, the interests of the most powerful governments in the world are often intimately intertwined with the expanding pursuits of the transnationals that they charter.

At the same time, transnational corporations are moving to circumvent national governments. The borders and regulatory agencies of most governments are caving in to the New World Order of globalization, allowing corporations to assume an ever more stateless quality, leaving them less and less accountable to any government anywhere.

These corporations, together with their host governments, are reorganiznig world economic structures--and thus the balance of political power--through a series of intergovernmental trade and investment accords. These treaties serve as the frameworks within which globalization is evolving--allowing international corporate investment and trade to flourish across the Earth. They include:

The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

The World Trade Organization, which was created to enforce the GATT's rules.

The proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The European Union (EU).

These international trade and investment agreements allow corporations to circumvent the power and authority of national governments and local communities, thus endangering workers' rights, the environment and democratic political processes.

------------------------------------------------------------- source: Joshua Karliner, The Corporate Planet: Ecology and Politics in the Age of Globalization (Sierra Club Books, 1997)

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