Latest Developments, November 6

In the latest news and analysis…

Multinational taxes
Reuters reports that the British and German governments are pushing fellow G20 members to ensure multinational corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes:

“[British Finance Minister George Osborne and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble] said international tax standards have struggled to keep up with changes in global business practices and that some companies have been able to shift taxation of their profits away from where they are generated.

Opportunities abound for corporations to cut tax costs, usually in legal ways, through careful management of cross-border flows of goods, services and capital among subsidiaries in different countries. International standards urge multinationals to price such dealings at near market levels.
But by under-charging or over-charging one unit in a transaction with another unit, for instance, profits can be shifted from a high-tax jurisdiction to a low-tax one. This is especially true for companies with valuable intellectual capital that can easily be moved between jurisdictions.”

African unit
Defense News reports that a unit of the US Army, the first of its regionally aligned forces brigades, is scheduled to participate in 96 “activities” in 34 African countries over a six-month period next year:

“[Col. Kevin] Marcus said the program isn’t about how long a unit is in Africa, ‘it’s about the regularity of contact and then the ability to link events together over time, so that we’ve got that sustained engagement.’
He declined to go into specifics when asked about hot spots along the Mediterranean, the Sahel region, and places such as Mali.
‘It’s not about one country or region,’ Marcus said. ‘It’s about doing what we can do to protect U.S. interests in building the capacity for African militaries to protect their own interests, and in turn cooperate with ours. It’s not a function of geography, it’s a function of interests.’ ”

Business impacts
The UN News Centre reports that a body of experts has called on governments and corporations to do more to tackle the “adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activities”:

“The affected groups and communities referred to by the [UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises] include children, older persons, indigenous women and men, workers with precarious employment conditions, migrant workers, journalists, human rights defenders, community activists and leaders who protest against or raise allegations concerning the impact of business activities, and marginalized rural and urban communities, as well as minorities that are subject to discrimination and marginalization.”

Foxconn surge
Reuters reports that a controversial Apple supplier’s fortunes are looking up despite allegations of workers’ rights abuses:

“Shares of Foxconn International Holdings Ltd (FIH), the world’s biggest contract maker of cellphones, surged as much as 35 percent after Citigroup upgraded the stock to a ‘buy’ and said it expected the firm to start assembling iPhones this year.

‘Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Xiaomi, Baidu, Tencent are all trying to launch smartphones and none has in-house manufacturing,’ Citigroup said, raising its target price on FIH to HK$5.80 and its earnings estimate for 2013 by 134 percent.
Shares of FIH, which assembles handsets for the likes of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, jumped as high as HK$3.69 in their biggest one-day gain ever.”

Imperial development
The University of London’s Simon Reid-Henry explores the “post-development thinking” of Colombian anthropologist Arturo Escobar:

“It was a critique of the whole rotten edifice of western ideas that supported development, which Escobar regarded as a contradiction in terms and a sham. For Escobar, development amounted to little more than the west’s convenient ‘discovery’ of poverty in the third world for the purposes of reasserting its moral and cultural superiority in supposedly post-colonial times.
Escobar felt development was, unavoidably, both an ideological export (something Walt Rostow would willingly have admitted) and a simultaneous act of cultural imperialism. With its highly technocratic language and forthright deployment of norms and value judgements, it was also a form of cultural imperialism that poor countries had little means of declining politely.

Through Foucault, Escobar came to the conclusion that development planning was not only a problem to the extent that it failed; it was a problem even when it succeeded, because it so strongly set the terms for how people in poor countries could live. Told how to behave, poor people were made subjects of development as much as they were subjects of their own government.”

British invasions
The Telegraph reports on a new book that claims Britain has, at one time or another, invaded all but 22 of the world’s countries:

“Only a comparatively small proportion of the total in [Stuart] Laycock’s list of invaded states actually formed an official part of the empire.
The remainder have been included because the British were found to have achieved some sort of military presence in the territory – however transitory – either through force, the threat of force, negotiation or payment.
Incursions by British pirates, privateers or armed explorers have also been included, provided they were operating with the approval of their government.”

Nuclear arms
The Toledo International Center for Peace’s Shlomo Ben-Ami argues that the precise number of nuclear weapons in the world is perhaps less significant than their distribution for global peace efforts:

“Although Russia and the US possess roughly 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, their nuclear capabilities are less of a threat than is the danger of proliferation. It is this fear of a fast-growing number of nuclear-armed states, not the fine balancing of the US and Russian nuclear arsenals, that the case for Global Zero must address. Indeed, addressing the underlying security concerns that fuel nuclear competition in regional trouble spots is more important to the credibility of Global Zero’s goal of “a world without nuclear weapons” than is encouraging exemplary behavior by the two major nuclear powers.
After all, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran, and Israel might not be particularly impressed by a reduction in the US and Russian nuclear-weapons stockpiles from gross overkill to merely mild overkill.”

Blogging for change
Global Voices reports on a campaign by Mauritanian bloggers against foreign mining companies “accused of looting Mauritania’s mineral wealth”:

“The participating posts in the campaign focused on the detection of the foreign companies’ violations of environmental laws, and destruction of the surrounding areas.
Moreover, they unveiled the low percentage of profit given by these companies to Mauritania, that reach at the best 4 per cent of the price of mined gold and copper. They also highlighted the discrimination policies pursued by the foreign companies against their Mauritanian employees.”

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