North-South and South-South: Essays on International by Frances Stewart (auth.)

By Frances Stewart (auth.)

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Ten countries boycotted Nestle because of the company's contribution to infant malnutrition in the Third World. After six and a half years, the company agreed to four major changes, involving changed labelling, the distribution of warning literature, the end of expensive gifts to doctors and limiting supplies to hospitals. The boycott was called off, but the boycotting countries agreed to continue to monitor the situation. The boycott was estimated to have cost Nestle $40 million. 3 Given the repeated failure of the previous negotiating strategy, it seems that there is not much point in continuing on that tack.

Very often the technology is available in another company in the same developing country - and more often in other developing countries. Unitary taxation (or some variant) may ensure proper taxation of MNCs. Unnecessary tax incentives may be removed and codes of conduct may be imposed unilaterally. If these actions are taken on a regional basis, they are less likely to lead to a reduced flow of investment. Where countries already have substantial amounts of foreign investment, control over these assets presents a potential bargaining counter in discussion with the HQ government.

For example, one reporter commented, 'The Philippines . . is likely to benefit from the recent trend towards bigger breaks for troubled debtors' (Asian Wall Street Journal, 13 March 1984). There are various areas where countries may gain by being in a similar situation and bargaining on similar matters, without the need for any formal agreement, which is difficult to secure. Debtor power may be used (a) to secure a greater flow of resources (private and public); (b) to improve the terms of rescheduling; (c) to secure reduced servicing obligations (for example, lower interest rates); (d) to improve the terms of IMF conditionality; and (e) to put pressure on Northern countries to relax trade restrictions, and take other action which will make it easier for the borrowing countries to repay their debts through greater export earnings.

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