What are the risks if powerful people make up the rules for trade?
Prompt: Rig them in their own favour, they behave unfairly.
How can we make sure the rules of trade are fair?
Prompt: Let everyone get involved in making them, have a referee.
What are transnational corporations?
Explain that a transnational corporation is an enterprise with activities in two or more countries with an ability to influence others. (UN definition).
Find out about a TNC
Working in pairs students carry out research. Using the Internet and other sources they produce a short presentation on the work and potential influence
of a named TNC.
Use the following questions as a start:
- Which brands or companies does the corporation own?
- In which countries does the corporation operate?
- How much annual profit did the corporation publish in its latest financial report?
- What does the corporation say about its concern for issues such as the environment and development?
- What can be learnt about the power held by a transnational corporation?
- How might this power be used or abused?
These are all good examples as their web sites provide much of this information.
Be aware that some corporations present very limited information - the class could discuss possible reasons for this.
Ask students to look up the UN Human Development Report on www.undp.org or in an atlas.
Compare the Gross National Product (GNP) of a range of countries, such as the Philippines, the UK, the USA, Tanzania and Peru, with the profits of these transnational companies.
Bring the pairs together to share their results.
Can they agree on how powerful TNC's were? How could shoppers influence trade rules?
- Christian Aid has a local network of voluntary teachers. They can help take assemblies, use Christian Aid resources in class and support work on developing countries.
- International trade is worth £6 million a minute and growing fast, it has great power and can have a huge impact to improve or ruin the lives of millions of people.
- International trade rules are agreed through the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
- Most countries are members and in theory all share in the negotiations equally. However, while a rich country like Japan can pay 25 people to work at the WTO headquarters in Geneva all year round, many poor countries cannot afford to have any representatives at all.
- TNCs are huge companies that operate in several countries. Many are much richer than entire countries in the less developed world. Such companies can provide work and enrich a country's economy - or they can exploit the workers with low pay and destroy the environment.
- There are few rules to set standards for the behaviour of TNCs - and the governments of poor countries do not have the power or will to prevent exploitation.
For all links and resources click at top right.