Video

Export Processing Zones

Export Processing Zones (EPZ’s) are detrimental in a corporations decision to outsource in developing countries. For example in the Philippines the EPZ’s exist within a legal set of brackets that is exempt from any interference by the police and municipal government, in this case the EPZ’s become cordoned off in their own world and become hosts within their own countries. The whole idea of having Export Processing Zones within a country could be argued to stem from the neoliberalism ideology, as it is this ideology that stresses the importance of having international organisations such as the IMF and world bank and these institutions are avid supporters of having Foreign Direct investments in developing nations, however this whole system is flawed. To begin with companies such as Nike are lured into manufacturing in these countries because they often offer them a 5 year tax free incentive, the idea being that after 5 years Nike will begin to pay tax for the exports and the companies economy will steadily grow, however an interview with the Mayor of Rosario, Philippines and social activist Naomi Klein showed that this was not the case as he said that many companies ‘fold up before the tax holiday expires, then they incorporate to another company, just to avoid payment of taxes.”. Additionally the wages that Nike workers are paid in the EPZ’s does not even cover the cost of their daily allowances so the idea that the money the workers earn within the EPZ’s will be injected into the economy is deceitful, especially as the bid to win over the big multinational corporations become more and more competitive as it is the workers wage that is squeezed in a bid to cut their costs.

Wafaa Ashur

Video

Qatar World Cup

Over 500 Indian migrants in Qatar have died as a result of building the infrastructure that will host the 2022 World Cup. Many Indians and Nepalese workers go to Gulf states in a bid to have a better life and make enough money to send remittances back home, however the reality proves otherwise, many of these workers will not even make it back home alive and are put to work in horrible working conditions as illustrated in the video. The Labour laws in place at the moment make it so that these poor migrants who go over to work in Qatar have practically no rights whatsoever, the Qatari labour code (kafala system) ensures that all the power is given to the employers and not the employees, because of this labour code employees in Qatar are able to confiscate their workers passports making sure that they cannot leave the country, pay salaries late or in some circumstances not at all, this is all working in the benefit of the rich to keep them in a position to continue being able to exploit workers and just ensuring the status quo.

Wafaa Ashur

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Greenwasher of the year

Have you heard of greenwashing? Greenwashing is referred to cases when companies encourage people and investors to use their services or products by advertising themselves as environmentally friendly and innovative towards greener future when in reality it is the opposite. There is a lot of greenwashing on and it is surprising how much companies invest in PR to promote their ‘green ways’ instead of actually making a move. Moreover, most of these companies are energy and oil companies that have the greatest power of making a change. There are some other companies who can also leave a big footprint while pretending to be green. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you the official Greenwasher of the year: Walmart.

So it was back in 2005 when Walmart introduced their plan to step forward as a sustainable green energy leader. Although their webpage has a number of pages of their great renewable sustainable energy plans etc. they have achieved absolutely nothing in these 9 years! So how about instead of investing in amazing PR, make a change and keep your promises. Walmarts excuse could not even be ‘low profit’, as they keep the chain growing massively by keeping wages low, buying and producing cheap and then emitting tons of CO2 by transporting all these goods. Geenwashing or not but you can ask yourself if these goods could be grown, produced, and transported without causing so much damage to the environment?

Obviously most of Walmarts PR is for their clients because if you have a closer look at their annual reports, they state out that their greenhouse gas footprint has grown 13.8 per cent since 2005. In the public reports and annual plans they make new promises and plans for sustainable green energy projects and reducing its carbon emission. They promise to use 100%  renewable energy, create no waste and produce and sell products that sustain people and environment. Let me explain it a bit closer. 100% renewable energy is easily achievable. Other major chains like Staples, Whole Foods etc have already reached this target whereas Walmart is only using 5% of renewable energy. It’s because it is “sometimes difficult to find and fund renewable energy projects that meet Walmart’s ROI requirements”. In other words, they are only going to move from fossil fuels when it wont make a big imoact on their profits. So how do you make a reform without investments?

When it comes to sustainable products, this is where we can speak about the low wages and production costs. Its expansion wipes out more sustainable local small businesses and replace them with a global monolith. They are also known as the largest cargo shipment using company in the US. So please tell me,how is that ssutainable for people and environment when our cheap products come with a cost of third world sweat shops and high carbon emission?
Congratulations for the title for Walmart, you have won the Greenwasher 2014 title, leaving environment as the loser. Dear to argue?

http://50.87.144.187/~grnlife/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/report-2.pdf
Merilin Notton, MDX University

Gap Sweatshop Children

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We all know sweatshops exist right? But when was the last time any of you can actually say that you sat and really thought about how awful working in a sweatshop can be?

Having young adults working in terrible conditions for barely nothing is one thing, however having young children slaving away for 16 hours a day to make Gap clothing, which is roughly twice the amount of hours working adults in the UK have to work, this is one step too far. In October 2007, According to the Telegraph police rescued 14 children from a sweatshop in New Delhi, India. The more big corporations such as Gap are trying to make more profits and keep up with the demand of their products from the west, it seems as though people from underdeveloped countries continue to find themselves on the chopping block.

Many of these children who work in Gap sweatshops are claiming to not even being paid as their employees tell them that they are still being trained. According to one estimate, more than 20 percent of India’s economy is dependent on children, the equivalent of 55 million children under the age of 14. These children are working 16 hours in a warehouse with barely any clothes and are “fed bowls of mosquito-covered rice, and forced to sleep on a roof and use over-flowing latrines.” Guards patrol the area and make sure all the children are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and any one who isn’t is severely beaten. “Those who slowed down were beaten with rubber pipes and the ones who cried had oily cloths stuffed in their mouths.”

Most of these children are sold by their parents to the sweatshops so that they can eventually make enough money to support their families, if the children ask to leave they are only allowed to do so once their ‘debt’ is paid off (what their parents were paid), however this is almost impossible as the children who work in the gap sweatshops are being paid close to nothing. some children even pass away as a result of working in these awful conditions for many years, each child is constantly at risk of work related injuries while working in these sweatshops, and everyday being spent in these sweatshops means everyday of them not being in school and being stuck in the cycle of having to do this kind of work for money.

Some people may argue that Gap is helping or has helped India’s economy and also helped in raising the standard of living but at what cost? In the contemporary global political economy it always seems as though the big multi-corporations continue to thrive, the government officials of underdeveloped countries and owners of these sweatshops are making a profit and the people who are on the losing end are the children and women who work in Gap sweatshops as they need to be exploited in order for others to have something to gain.

 

Wafaa Ashur 

Globalisation VS Culture

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Recently Qatar has been under construction and renovation whilst boasting the worlds highest GDP per capita in a single generation. It doesn’t take time to see globalization in action, in Doha whilst your driving you certain to witness this change. Commercially speaking globalization exists intensely as most streets in Doha have been infiltrated by international franchises, whether it’s the fast food restaurants or Luxurious brands, hence cultural globalization is evident, the spread of ideas and concepts is alive and kicking in Qatar. Globalization has a bright side as well as a dark side, and although it certainly empowers certain people , its dark side is evident as its impact is uneven and we can say that when we talk about the difference between Qatar’s local community, and the expats, we can say that globalization and consumerism in a small state where expats are a majority, will certainly erode the culture and history with time.

 The manifestation of western consumerism is evident in the way the abaya has been worn these days, with girls wearing jeans beneath it and carrying a Marc Jacobs bag. Doha’s oldest market Souq Waqif has even been modernised, the last remaining authenticity has been affected by cultural globalisation to the point that the ‘Souq’ is selling ‘traditional’ products that are made in china and right opposite the stall there’d be a Dunkin Donuts stall.

 However the real struggle lies in the fact that the majority of the population is the expatriate workforce and migrants, out of the 1.8 million only 300,000 are Qatari the impact of cultural globalisation in Qatar is yet to be seen, however it is evident that in the process of Qatar becoming a more developed nation, they are also losing out on their culture and identity to a certain extent in the process.

 

Wafaa Ashur

THE PATH TOWARDS DEVELOPMENT: Rural and Urban areas.

In addition to the exclusion of certain ethnic groups, minorities, small scale producers and countries in the periphery in general there is another consequence of the current system that, surprisingly, affects both highly developed and developing countries: concentration; concentration and accumulation of wealth and people. All strategies used in order to tackle development may or may not work in certain countries, groups or areas but the truth is that even when they do work they mostly manage to develop only certain areas in the country translated into overpopulation in capital cities or massive immigration towards highly developed countries. This phenomenon, immigration, is not only seen across countries or when Africans migrate to Europe. It can be seen within a single country too and allows us to understand the problem in depth.

Concentration of wealth in capital cities is one of the most illustrative examples; seen for instance in the case of the Chinese capital city or even London itself. People migrate from cities outside as “development” and “opportunity” is now a synonym of big cities, a life of luxury and a job in a bank. This creates devastating conditions for countries, especially countries which their economy relies on products of the primary sector (mainly produced outside the capital city) and these countries are usually countries in the periphery. So that the consequences of this phenomenon are even stronger in developing countries where probably only one or two cities are “highly developed”.

In the case of places like Colombia and Brazil, other factors might affect the migration of people towards capital cities like civil wars, deforestation or force displacement. As these areas where these people are not seen as essential to the country´s development then they are not properly taken care off. In the sense that all the wealth concentrates on the main cities and so does investment. Is devastating because rural areas and the products being produced there are essential for the country’s’ economy but they are ironically forgotten and farmers later became taxi drivers or cleaners in the city. They might be able to live a better life now but they remain uneducated and with no opportunities to improve their standards of living. On the other side, is not only detrimental for these part of the population but to the economy itself because, as food production decreases, the reliance of food exports and other products increases which will later perpetuate instability, dependence, bad distribution of wealth and inequality. Having covered different groups and perspectives under the actual framework one can later conclude that the actual system only perpetuates the poverty and inequality in countries in the periphery and it benefits only small parts of the economy and people at a cost of a big spoilage of rural areas and probably makes life in the cities even harder. Furthermore, there are even consequences for highly developed countries that need to tackle the problem of excessive immigration towards their “paradise”. The current system does not create economically independent and strong arising countries but highly dependent and unstable ones.

 

Ana Maria Franco.

Middlesex Univeristy, London.

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THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: WHAT ABOUT CULTURE?

THE GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY: WHAT ABOUT CULTURE?

In the context of the actual system, we have analysed the effect of its dynamics in small domestic economies and producers, like in the Colombian case, and groups living in extreme poverty, like in the case of Brazil. By now, we understand that development is not only measured by the economic performance of a country. We understand that when measuring development topics such as education, equality and many other affect directly the standard of living of any population. When analysing any country, one must then remember than a nation state is not only about the performance of their government (the state itself) but the performance of the nation as a diverse community that works together and coexist among each other in harmony. Under this logic, one could argue that culture, values and customs that all nations possess need to be as preserved and nurtured as their economy and institutions are or attempt to be. This is important for many reasons. A strong, spread out and constant sense of nationalism among a population brings infinite benefits. First of all, maintains a country together and looking onto the same direction which will avoid divisions and eventually the fragmentation of the country. At the same time, allows the country to work together above their differences and reduces the possibility of, for instance, civil wars of rebellions against the government in power. In cases where countries are highly diverse and possess different religious and ethnic groups culture needs to be even more nurtured as conflict might arise easier.

When countries have been through severe processes of colonisation, like in the case of Colombia and Brazil, and the miscegenation process gave these countries an extensive range of minorities and different ethnic groups this lack of cultural development is easier to spot. In the images above, we can observe how indigenous groups in both Brazil and Colombia protest against their lands being taken for the construction of big venues or the extraction of resources. They argue that their rights are being violated and that governments give little or no protection to these Brazilian and Colombian citizens that are as important as the rest of the society.
The economic opening that both countries have been through the past 30 or 40 years following the dynamics of a more capitalistic and westernised world have been affecting these minorities greatly. When land and soil are not regarded anymore as they used to among these groups, a place on earth given to us a gift and with spiritual value, and begins to be seen an everlasting font of resources these values get lost and these minorities are excluded immediately. As mentioned before, this only creates fragmentation, exclusion, dissatisfaction and rage among these groups that at some point leads violence as the only option; this is one of the main reasons why most of the guerrillas arose in South and Latin America. One then understands that nowadays dynamics do not give priority to these kind of issues and nor do governments. So, any measures that are taken towards development will only keep on affecting them unless their voice is heard and their citizen rights are more respected and protected. This will not only improve the sense on Nationalism and unity but will help tackle the problem of inequality and distribution of wealth.

Ana Maria Franco.
Middlesex University, London.

How harmless downloads threaten a whole industry.

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As per figures illegal movie download has risen 30% last year and its causing the industry a loss of 170 million pounds. David Heyman, producer of all eight Harry Potter movies said, “Young people feel a sense of entitlement to download illegal movies and music but they are not presented is how their taking away jobs”.

The people who work on cinema sets are not much different from other who has a normal job. If a film does not get the royalty it deserves, the next time a studio produces a movie they will have cut down its budget which takes away the job of normal technicians and junior artists who are never on screen but are working very hard in the making the movie and are paid normal wages. So, the 10 pounds we spend on a cinema goes a long way in making the film and keeps people paying their mortgages. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14045313

Raunaq Mathew, Dubai Campus

The next big Layoff in Dubai

In a country where most almost all of the people are used to getting their cars fueled by someone will find it hard as renowned pumps like eppo and enoc have started trials on implementing self-service schemes for its customers. Enoc, had a similar trial in 2008 in 10 filling stations in Dubai but had to scrap it after two- thirds of its customers said they dislike the system. 

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The next attempt to this system has started in selected outlets which encourage customers for self service. The outlets has to find effective payment methods as its easy for people to fill fuel and run before they make payments. Even though the company might have a justifiable answer to this new scheme, at the end of the day it’s a matter of cutting costs and making profits. As, more and more customers get used to the self service system the more number of layoffs will be for the hundreds working at these pumps. 

 

http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/transport/eppco-to-trial-self-service-petrol-pumps-at-10-dubai-stations

 

Raunaq Mathew, Dubai Campus