Sunday, August 20, 2006
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The muted power of transnational capital
If the International Whaling Commission is my favorite international governmental organization, then my favorite international non-governmental organization would have to be the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue. Why? Because despite the impressive membership roster, this group does not appear to accomplish all that much. On issues like data privacy or genetically modified foods, the TABD has repeatedly issued stern proclamations with no effect on the outcome.
Which is why I am unmoved by this Financial Times story by Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Citigroup chairman Charles Prince has urged President George W. Bush to reinvigorate multilateral trade discussions and “identify a way forward” on the Doha round of trade talks.After such a proclamation, any good Marxist would predict that Doha would be reborn. And, as usual, they will likely be wrong.
UPDATE: Henry Farrell disagrees:
I think Dan is wrong here. The main reason that the TABD isn’t very influential in the grand scheme of things is that it doesn’t need to be. Business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have plenty of access to policy makers without any need to go through the formalities of the TABD....Henry's point that multinationals have access to policymakers beyond the TABD is well-taken. That said, I do think the failure of transnational capital to pry open the transatlantic market poses a greater challenge to structural Marxists than Henry asserts. To be sure, there are political economy arguments that explain the collapse of Doha and other transatlantic trade frictions as placating agribusiness and other forms of national capital. But these kind of political economy arguments do not mesh well with this part of the Communist Manifesto:
The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.
posted by Dan on 08.20.06 at 09:23 PM
Any good Marxist would note that the collateral activities ("the rise of protectionist tendencies" and "the increase in bilateral agreements between stronger trading nations") will do more for the businesses than Doha would, and therefore would expect that this is either window-dressing or bottom-feeding.
Unless there were reason to believe that the agreement could actually be concluded in time for King George to say "my way or the highway."posted by: Ken Houghton on 08.20.06 at 09:23 PM [permalink]
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