Brexit hasn’t been in the news much since Covid-19, but we’re still leaving the European Union in January 2020, which means we haven’t got long to get some trade-deals in place with several different countries.
The United States is one of the UK’s largest trade partners, with around $250 of trade between the countries every year.
We’ve actually been in trade negotiations with the United States since we knew there would be a Brexit in 2017, and we’ve just started up another round of talks, although a deal is apparently unlikely before the US elections in November 2020.
If we look back at the documents from the trade-talks since 2017, it seems that the US is pushing for the following:
The privatisation of the NHS and other public sector companies
Higher prices for US drugs companies
Protections for digital companies such as Facebook and Google
The UK has to accept ‘chlorinated chicken’
Oh, and they banned climate change from the talks too.
The trade talks so far have consisted of the US arguing for a pro free-market pro-Corporation agenda – a trade deal that allows large drug and digital companies more freedom to profit from our public services.
The fact that we haven’t caved into their demands yet suggests there is some resistance to the idea of too much neoliberalism, however, now that Brexit and a recession are looming, it will be interesting to see what kind of deal will be struck.
Especially since the NHS are now our heroes, this kind of deal might get some very negative publicity and mass resistance!
Global politics could get very interesting in the next few years!
If you’re and A-level sociology teacher, it might be a good time to switch to teaching the Global Development option!
One reason is that poorer countries tend to export low-value primary products such as agricultural goods, while richer countries export higher value goods.
Frank (1971) argues this is a legacy of colonialism during which rich countries made their colonies specialize in exporting one primary product such as sugar or cotton back to the ‘mother land’. After independence, developing societies were over-dependent on exporting these primary commodities, which typically have a very low market-value.
Examples include The Ivory Coast in West Africa – 33% dependent on cocoa beans; Kenya (in East Africa) which is about 30% dependent on two primary products – tea and cut flowers.
This type of trade does not necessarily promote development because the declining value of such commodities means developing nations need to export more and more every year just to stay in the same place. This has been described as ‘running up the downward escalator’.
A second reason why trade doesn’t work for development is that the global capitalist system depends on inequality
Emanuel Wallerstein argued that the world capitalist system is characterised by an international division of labour consisting of a structured set of relations between three types of capitalist zone:
The core, or developed countries control world trade and exploit the rest of the world.
The semi-peripheral zone includes countries like China or Brazil – which manufacture produces
The peripheral countries at the bottom, mainly in Africa, which provide the raw materials such as cash crops to the core and semi periphery.
Companies in the core countries need to keep prices of end-products as low as possible in order keep up demand, so they pay as little as possible for the raw materials and manufacturing. In short, the development of the west in terms of cheap, consumer goods depends on the poverty of the periphery and relative poverty of semi-periphery.
However, this may not always prevent trade working for development – countries can be upwardly or downwardly mobile in the world system. Many countries, such as the BRIC nations have moved up from being peripheral countries to semi-peripheral countries, and some (e.g. South Korea) can now be regarded as core countries.
Thirdly, a lack of regulation at both global and national levels means that workers have few protections in developing countries and thus don’t benefit from trade.
Many workers are exploited with low wages in sweat shops, which means workers don’t earn enough money to pay for social development such as education or health; Bangladesh is a good example of a country in which poor health and safety regulations result in high deaths.
Other Corporations such as Shell extracting oil in Nigeria burn gas flares and have leaky oil pipes which destroys the environment and leads to women miscarrying, which actually pushes the development of some areas backwards.
Dependency Theory argues that Nation States compete in a ‘race to the bottom’ to attract Transnational Corporations (and extract materials/ produce goods to trade) through having the least regulations.
‘Fifteen years ago, German journalist, Ulli Schauen helped compile a book of the top 500 global aid programmes… they ranged from schools for Maasai nomads to support for organic farming to training for volunteer sexual health workers.
The question is did they succeed or fail? Ulli travels to Kenya to see how the projects in that country fared. Ulli sets out to find if Aid really does make a difference.’
International Aid money has helped all of the projects below….
Project One – OSIGILI
in 1995 the Laikipiak Maasai formed an organization called OSILIGI (which means ‘Hope’.)
In one of the first projects OSILIGI organized reading and writing courses geared to the nomadic life. In April, August and December, when the nomadic herdsmen are settled, a teacher comes to the village. During these weeks children have concentrated lessons. This made-to-measure education is considerably cheaper than state elementary school. In 4 years, OSILIGI has reached 380 children with this programme, mainly from poor families.
However, the broader issue OSILIGI campaigns for is to establish land rights – to pasture and watering holes, and here they appear to have lost. The Maasai still have no formal rights and their land, and thus way of life, is under threat from agribusinesses and eco-tourism and in the programme we discover that the Maasai live amongst miles and miles of fences – which fence off private farms – one farm being as large as the island of Malta, which houses shipped-in Rhinos for eco-tourism, but this leaves little room for the Maasai.
Osigili seems now to be focussing on the education aspect, but the land rights issue has been taken up by another organisation – IMPACT. It is possible that more progress will be made in this area in the future.
Project Two – A Voucher System for Health Care
In the far West of Kenya the German Government Trained volunteer health advisers – 20 000 community health workers for 10 years. Unfortunately this terminated in 2006 and so no evaluation or final report can be found, the argument here, however, is that a lasting legacy
The German government now funds a voucher programme for the poor where they can use vouchers to receive free or subsidised contraception, maternal health services and HIV treatment.
Through the voucher programme local (privately run) hospitals receive $50 for maternal treatments and $12 for AIDs screenings (from the German Aid fund, they don’t get state funding) – 3/4s of the money goes on medicine and food, but the rest is available to allow for hospital expansion.
To give an example of how it works – one woman is interviewed who is HIV positive, and giving birth in the hospital meant that the infection was not passed on to her two children.
Despite the above, Kenya still failed to reach two of its MDGs -reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health.
But German Government trying to influence Kenyan health policy into the bargain. Germans wand to promote health insurance, Americans want to promote other issues – donors don’t co-ordinate their programmes.
This is a cooperative of 4000 women, who initially set up a library, primary school and a health centre. They also established a range of small businesses devoted to weaving, water, candlemaking, bakery.
However, all of this stopped working years ago… 75% of the initial money went into other people’s pockets – so they couldn’t pay workers or for materials to keep the projects going.
However, what these women learnt in the early days of this project allowed them to establish their own businesses, many of which are today successful and export to other countries.
Project Four – Environmental Protection on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is heavily overfished and polluted.
This projects aims were to build water treatment plants and limiting the spread of the water hyacinth. There are laws in place about catch size (enforced by the mesh size of nets). However, it seems that everyone is happy about breaking the law and the aid-funded environmental organisation doesn’t seem to be enforcing the rules.
The World Bank Project labelled this one as unsatisfactory.
Project Five – A Foot Pump for Water
An Australian company called Kick Start (originally known as Aprotec ) which focussed on developing just one product – a small, foot operated water pump, claims to have lifted almost one million people out of poverty. Aid has been essential in this. The CEO says that it is not profitable to develop such products for people – it’s high risk, low return, and high cost – so it’s a market failure – thus subsidies in the form of International Aid, with this money going mainly into Research and Development and marketing (radio ads).
The pumps themselves are sold for $130 – and they have sold 250 000, which means about 900 000 will have been lifted out of poverty. We visit a tree nursery to see how this works – where an employee is using the foot pump (like a step machine) to pump water to water the young trees – this has allowed the company to grow a lot more trees and it is now much bigger than it used to be.
Question – Has development aid worked in the above five cases?
The programme finishes off by noting that we see all of the classic problems associated with Aid in the above examples, but it is the positive impacts which stick in his mind, especially the fact that when official projects collapse, the people who have gained skills carry on campaigning in different ways.
Find Out More…. There are another two episodes in the series if you wish to listen further!
It could be used in the Global Development topics on ‘Organisations in Development’ or ‘the role of Private Aid in Development’
A flow chart of what’s below would run something like this…
TNCs (pump their profits into their) – Charitable Foundations (who established) – The Council of Foreign Relations (which influences) – The World Bank (which sets the economic policies of) – Developing Countries
Basically Roy argues that in the early 20th century, three of the largest corporations in the world (one of which was Ford) set up Philanthropic (charitable) organisations – In the middle of the 20th century, after World War Two, these organisations were key to establishing the Council of Foreign Relations, the World Bank, the United Nations and the CIA. Essentially, Roy is arguing that US Corporations run the biggest international organisations in the world, which in turn coerce Developing countries into doing what these Corporations want.
The enthralling history of ‘philanthropic foundations’ began in the United States in the early 20th century. Among the the first was the Rockefeller Foundation, endowed in 1914 by J.D Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Company.
Rockefeller was America’s first billionaire and the world’s richest man. He believed his money was given to him by God. Among the institutions financed with Rockefeller’s money are the United Nations, the CIA, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Philanthropic Foundations are non tax-paying legal entities with massive resources with an almost unlimited brief. They are wholly unaccountable, wholly non transparent, and are basically about translating economic power into social, political and cultural capital.
They emerged in the 1920s because it was then that US Capitalism began to look outward for raw materials and overseas markets. Foundations began to formulate the idea of global corporate governance. In 1924 the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations formed the Council on Foreign Relations (the CFR), also funded by the Ford Foundation as well. By 1947 the CIA was working closely with the CFR and over the years the CFR’s membership has included 22 secretaries of state, and all eleven of the World Bank’s presidents have been members of the the CFR. The CFR also contributed a grant of £8.5 million to pay for the land in New York on which the United Nations building now stands.
Given that the World Bank has more or less directed the economic policies of the Third World, coercing them to open up their markets in return for loans and aid, and given that the World Bank is steered by the Council of Foreign Relations, which in turn is steered by Transnational Corporations, it seems to follow that it’s TNCs which really have really determined the foreign policies of third world countries over the past few decades.
By the 1950s the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations were funding international educational institutions began to work as quasi-extensions of the US government, which was at the time toppling democratically elected governments in Latin America, Iran and Indonesia.
The Ford Foundation established a US style economics course in Indonesia at the Indonesian University. Elite Indonesian students, trained in counterinsurgency by US army officers, played a crucial part in the 1965 CIA backed coup in Indonesia which bought General Suharto to power. He repaid his mentors by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of communist rebels.
Twenty years later, young Chilean students who came to be known as the Chicago Boys were taken to the US to be trained in neoliberal economics by Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago (endowed by J.D Rockefeller), in preparation for the 1973 CIA backed coup that killed Salvador Allende and brought General Pinochet and a reign of death squads, disappearances and terror that lasted for seventeen years. Allende’s crime was being a democratically elected socialist and nationalising Chile’s mines.
Like all good Imperialists, the Philanthropoids set themselves the task of creating and training an international cadre that believed that Capitalism and by extension the hegemony of the United States was in their own interests.
Corporate foundations also provide scholarships at universities for courses in development studies – and many of these are for people from the middle classes in the developing world – these are the future finance ministers, corporate lawyers and bankers of the developing world. Of course the courses funded are the ones which sing the virtues of neoliberal economic policy, rather than the ones which are critical of neoliberalism.
According to Roy, not only do Philanthropic Foundations control the agendas of International Economic Organisations, governments and education systems, they also control the media and social movements which emerge to protest neoliberal policies – she gives a few examples of how, but probably the best piece of supporting evidence for this point of view is that we don’t question the role of philanthropic foundations in society. When Corporate funded philanthropic foundations first appeared in the United States, there were debates about their accountability, and people suggested that if they had so much money they should maybe raise the wages of their workers instead, nowadays we just don’t question them.
In summary, Roy argues that Philanthropic Foundations are simply a way of using a minuscule percentage of profits to run the world.
A Question to Consider….
The largest philanthropic foundation on earth today is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Roy points out that it’s odd that Bill Gates*, who admittedly knows a thing or two about computers, is now designing education, health, and agriculture policies, not just for US governments but for governments all over the world.
The question that Roy makes us ask is this – Is Bill Gates really trying to help people through his organisation, or is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation really a just a way for Gates to translate his economic capital into global political power, and to make sure that government policies the world over benefit Microsoft?
*Or to refer to him by his full name – ‘The Man Child Bill Gates’.
The above post is summarised from Arundhati Roy’s ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’ (2014).
The following two thinkers argue that aid can work, but it needs to be better targeted in order to be effective. This is really a return to ‘neo-modernisation theory’.
Paul Collier (2008)
Collier’s analysis of aid suggests that aid is merely a ‘holding operation preventing things from falling apart’. However, he does argue that without aid, the countries of the bottom billion would have become even poorer than they are today.
However, Collier’s evidence also indicates that the more aid is increased, the less is the return on economic growth. Collier argues that aid is often rendered ineffective by two obstacles, or traps in some recipient countries:
The conflict trap – too many countries receiving foreign aid are engaged in expensive civil wars or military conflicts with their neighbours.
The bad governance trap – Collier highlights the problem of kleptocracies – the corrupt elites which run many developing societies. The commission for Africa estimated that the amount of money stolen by corrupt elites and held in foreign bank accounts is equivalent to more than half of Africa’s debts.
Collier argues that these traps prevent aid from being spent effectively – because a significant proportion of aid money gets siphoned off into funding the military or simply into the pockets of rich elites.
Peter Riddell (2007)
Riddell (2007) argues that rich countries need to shoulder the blame for the failure of aid because:
They often fail to distribute it to the countries that need it. For example, less than half of all aid is channelled to the poorest countries.
There are too many donors and projects, which fail to co-operate with each other and undermines the effectiveness of aid.
Aid agencies often fail to promote a sense of ownership of development projects among local people, and so the projects fail because the locals don’t support them.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.
Should Foreign Aid be Abandoned or Adapted? Huffington Post Article
Criticism 1 – The most vociferous recent critiques of Official Development Aid comes in the form of Dambisa Moyo’s recent book (2009) Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working And How there is another way for Africa. At root, her most basic criticism is that Official Development Aid hasn’t actually generated significant economic growth in recipient countries. According to Moyo
‘Over the past thirty years, the most aid-dependent countries have exhibited growth rates of minus 0.2% per annum. Looked at as a whole, Africa has had over $1 trillion dollars of aid money pumped into it over the last 60 years and not much good to show for it.’
Criticism 2 (Neoliberalism) – Aid stifles the development of small businesses.
Moyo explains how this works as below…..
‘There’s a mosquito net maker in Africa. He manufactures around 500 nets a week. He employs 10 people, who each have to support upwards of 15 relatives. However hard they work, they cannot make enough nets to combat the malaria-carrying mosquito.
Enter vociferous Hollywood movie star who rallies the masses, and goads Western governments to collect and send 100, 000 mosquito nets to the affected region, at a cost of $1 million, The nets arrive, the nets are distributed and a good deed is done.
With the market flooded with foreign nets, however, our mosquito net maker is promptly out of business. His ten workers can no longer support their dependents.
Now think of what happens 5 years down the line when the mosquito nets are torn and beyond repair, we have now mosquito nets, and no local industry to build any more. The long term effect of the ‘aid injection’ has been to decimate the local economy and make the local population dependent on foreign aid from abroad.
Criticism 3 (Neoliberalism) – Aid Encourages Corruption
In 2004 the British envoy to Kenya, Sir Edward Clay, complained about rampant corruption in the country, commenting that Kenya’s corrupt ministers were ‘eating like gluttons’ and vomiting on the shoes of foreign donors. In February 2005 (prodded to make a public apology), he apologised, saying he was sorry for the ‘moderation’ of his language, for underestimating the scale of the looting and for failing to speak out earlier
According to Dambisa Moyo – If the world has one image of African statesmen, it is one of rank corruption on a stupendous scale. One of the best examples of this is Mobutu, who is estimated to have looted Zaire to the tune of $5 billion. He is also famous for leasing Concorde to fly his daughter to her wedding in the Ivory Coast shortly after negotiating a lucrative aid deal with Ronald Regan in the 1980s.
Moyo further argues that at least 25% of World Bank Aid is misused. One of the worst examples is in Uganda in the 1990s – where it is estimated that only 20% of government spending on education actually made it to local primary schools.
Moyo argues that growth cannot occur in an environment where corruption is rife. There are any number of ways in which corruption can retard growth.
Corruption leads to worse development projects – corrupt government officials award contracts to those who collude in corruption rather than the best people for the job. This results in lower-quality infrastructure projects.
Foreign companies will not invest in countries where corrupt officials might siphon off investment money for themselves rather than actually investing that money in the country’s future.
Aid is corrosive in that it encourages exceptionally talented people to become unprincipled – putting their efforts into attracting and siphoning off aid rather than focussing on being good politicians or entrepreneurs.
Criticism 4 – A final Neoliberal criticism of Aid is that too much aid money is spent on salaries, admin fees and conferences. Not only are these often secretive and not open to account, but this also means reduced money spent on actual development. The aid industry employs hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. For example, in the UK DEFA spent £248 million on administration in 2007/08. This has led to some referring to aid agencies as the lords of poverty – ironically, it is actually in the interests of these bureacractic agencies for poverty to exist, or thousands of people would be out of work.
Criticism 5 – Dependency theory argues there is a political agenda to aid
The allocation of US and UK aid has often depended on whether the political ideology of the developing country has met with Western Approval. Dependency theorists argue that the main point of aid is to make the recipients dependent on the donors. Many neo-marixsts argue that along with aid packages comes western values, advice, culture, and aid merely ensures that the interests of west are maintained.
During the cold war developing countries were rewarded with aid if they aligned themselves with the Capitalist west and against the Socialist regimes of Eastern Europe and China. Both the UK and U.S. governments refused aid to the Ethiopian government in the early 80s on the grounds that the government was Socialist.
A similar focus is also found in US military aid. Much military aid was sent to South America where it was used by right wing governments to repress socialist movements that were opposed to the interests of US multinationals.
Even with the fall of the cold war, countries are still rewarded for promoting western interests. Kenya was rewarded in 1991 for providing the US with port facilities during the gulf war while Turkey was denied US aid for not allowing them to lease its air bases.
In 2005 developing nations were rewarded for assisting the Bush regime’s war on terror.
NB Tied aid is now illegal in the UK by virtue of the International Development Act, which came into force on 17 June 2002. Other countries, however, still only provide aid on the basis that a proportion of the aid money is spent on products produced by the donor country.
Criticism 6 – (Dependency Theory) – World Bank aid has traditionally required countries to undertake ‘Structural Readjustment Policies’ (SAPs)
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are the largest and most influential of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and these have pursued a neoliberal development agenda since the 1980s. The damaging strings that the World Bank & IMF attach to aid, loans and debt relief often make it more difficult for poor countries to effectively tackle poverty. These strings often force poor countries to undertake Structural Adjustment Programmes – cut vital spending on health and education, or to privatise their public services, which provide opportunities for international companies to take these services over. Tanzania, Guyana and Bolivia have all been told that they must privatize their water supplies in order to get millions of pounds in aid from the world bank
Criticism 7 – (People Centred Development) – Top down aid is often irrelevant to the countries receiving it!
Much Official Development aid has focused on monstrous projects such as the building of dams and roads which have sapped local initiative harmed the environment and lead to social injustices.
Criticism 8 – (People Centred Development) – Focusing on aid for developing countries suggests that Africans are helpless. Live Sid Yasmin Aibhai- Brown argues that concerts such as Live Aid perpetuate the idea of Africa as a helpless continent incapable of helping itself, whereas the opposite is actually true. 
Early modernisation theoristsbelieved that it was essential to inject aid into countries to establish infrastructure and change attitudes. From the 1950s to 70s aid programs seemed to have a positive effect on many developing countries as both economic and social development increased, however this progress seamed to stall from the late 1970s.
Contemporary supporters of aid believe that aid is not necessarily a bad thing, but aid needs to be targeted, its effects monitored and accountability measures need to be in place, so that aid money doesn’t go astray, like the $10 billion lent to Indonesia during General Suharto’s rule between 1965-1995.
Neo-modernisation thinker Jeffry Sachs (2005)
In the ‘End of Poverty’ (2005) Sachs notes that large scale aid can work when it is practical, targeted, science based and measurable. He believes in aid as ‘one big push’ to sort out specific problems. He points to the following evidence to support his view that aid works:
Firstly, aid aimed at improving health has been particularly successful. Aid money has led to mass immunisation of children against diseases such as smallpox and measles, polio, diphtheria. Smallpox was practically wiped out with $100 million of very targeted aid aimed at vaccinating those most at risk. Today, Barder (2011) points out that every year foreign aid pays for 80% of immunisations and saves 3 million lives a year.
The recent sharp decline in Malaria deaths is largely due to targeted immunisation, paid for by international aid, a cause championed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
Secondly – The Green Revolution – In the 1960s, Western Aid assisted in the green revolution in China, India and South East Asia which saw rice yields increase by 2-3 times, leading to surplus rice being produced for export. Such countries were then able to use the income generated by these cash crops to diversify and grow their economies, transforming into Newly Industrialised Countries (The Asian Tiger Economies). The video below outlines the case for the Green Revolution.
Thirdly, Numerous countries, known as the International Development Association (IDA) graduates have gone on to ‘drive to maturity’ following large injections of aid money. Riddel (2014) argues that there is a substantial body of evidence that South Korea, Botswana and Indonesia have all benefited economically from Official Development Assistance.
Aid can also Support the Interests of Developed Countries (*)
According to Marren (2015), there is plenty of evidence that aid is shaped by the self-interest of the donor countries:
Aid may be used as a ‘sweetener’ to gain access to resources and markets and foster better trade links. The USA has used aid to guarantee access to scarce resources such as oil, while the increased donor activity of China in recent years may be linked to its need for raw materials. This goes some way to explaining why more aid money goes to lower-middle income countries rather than low-income countries – put simply, donor countries stand to gain more from giving aid the slightly better off rather than the very poorest.
Aid may be a way stimulating the donor economy. Some countries attach conditions to aid stipulating that a proportion of the funds must be spent on goods manufactured in the donor country. This is known as ‘tied aid’. The UK banned this kind of aid in 2001, although research conducted by The Guardian newspaper found that only 9 out of a total of 117 major DFID contracts (worth nearly £750 million) had gone to non-British companies.
Aid may be a way of strengthening political links and securing strategic interests. Countries which are viewed by the Americans as allies in the ‘War against Terror’ are generously rewarded with aid. A recent study of U.S. Aid since the 2000s showed that the main destinations were Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt. Similarly, UK aid is increasingly being spent on military objectives.
Statistics on the Benefits of UK Aid (*)
Wealth creation – provided 68.9 million people, including 35.9 million women, with access to financial services to help them work their way out of poverty.
Poverty, vulnerability, nutrition and hunger – reached 28.5 million children under five and pregnant women through the government’s nutrition-relevant programmes.
Education – supported 11.0 million children, of whom 5.3 million were girls, in primary and lower secondary education.
Health – ensured that 5.1 million births took place safely with the help of nurses, midwives or doctors. The UK has funded the distribution of 47 million insecticide-treated bed nets and is investing in vaccines and drugs, helping contribute to malaria deaths falling by 60% in the last 15 years.
Water, sanitation and hygiene – supported 62.9 million people, of whom 22.2 million were women, to access clean water, better sanitation or improved hygiene conditions.
Humanitarian assistance – reached over 13 million people with emergency food assistance, including 5.5 million women or girls.
Governance and security – supported freer and fairer elections in 13 countries in which 162.1 million people voted.
Climate change – supported 15 million people to cope with the effects of climate change.
Tax and transparency – supported agreement on a new global standard for automatic exchange of tax information, making it easier for governments to tackle offshore tax evasion.
Scientific research – helped the global elimination of rinderpest, a cattle disease which led to famine and poverty, and helped breed a new disease-resistant crop which has increased food security for an estimated 3 million people.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.
*A good example of this can be found in DFID’s 2015 document ‘UK Aid: Tackling Global Challenges in the National Interest’
Aid refers to any flow of resources from developed countries to the developing world. Aid can come in the form of money, technology, gifts or training, and can either be provided in the form of a grant which does not have to pay back or a loan with interest which does have to be paid back.
There are different strengths and limitations of aid depending on where it comes from – and you need to be able to distinguish between Official Development Aid from large scale institutions such as the World Bank and Governments, aid organised through Non-Governmental Organisations – or Charities such as Oxfam and Private Aid – from organisations set up by wealthy individuals – such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Types of Aid
There are three main types of aid you need to know about:
Firstly – Official Development Aid (ODA) is aid from public or official sources such as national governments or international agencies of development. Official Development Aid accounts for 80% aid.
There are two main types of ODA (which are not distinguished in the table above)
Bilateral Aid involves countries in the developed world giving money directly to governments, local communities or businesses in the developing world. In the UK this is knowns as ‘Official Development Assistance’ and in is delivered through the Department for International Development (DFID). 70% of ODA is bilateral.
Multilateral Aid involves the UK (and other countries) donating money to international agencies such as the World Bank and the European Commission. There are over 200 international agencies which provide aid to developing countries. 30% of ODA flows through such international agencies.
Secondly – Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Aid – NGOs are independent charities such as OXFAM which raise donations from the general public. There are thousands of NGOs ranging from the very large and well-known such as OXFAM, which focus on a range of development projects, to the very localised and specific, which may consist of just a few individuals focussing on one development issue in one area of one country. NGO aid makes up the other 20% of aid.
Thirdly – Private Aid – This is aid from international foundations which are set up by wealthy individuals or Corporations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This accounts for a relatively small proportion of aid flows.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins.
Andre Gunder Frank (1971) argues that the reason trade doesn’t work for poor countries is a legacy of colonialism – before independence, the colonizing power simply took these commodities. After independence, developing societies are often still over-dependent on exporting these primary commodities, which typically have a very low market-value, and rich countries are happy to keep things this way because this enables them to stay rich.
Dependency Theorists point to at least the following reasons why trade doesn’t help poor countries develop:
Poor countries are often dependent on low value, primary products for their export-earnings
Examples of countries over-dependent on low-value commodities include the Ivory Coast in West Africa, which to this day remains around 33% dependent on the export of raw cocoa beans or related products; Kenya (in East Africa) which is about 30% dependent on two primary products – tea and cut flowers, and Ethiopia (also in East Africa, although never a European colony) which is about 30% dependent on income from Coffee exports.
According to Elwood (2004) three commodities account for 75% of total export in the poorest 50 countries, but because of the declining value of such commodities, the developing nations need to export more and more every year just to stay in the same place. One developing nation leader described it as ‘running up the downward escalator’. For example, in 1960, the earnings from 25 tons of natural rubber would buy four tractors, today it would only buy one.
Value is added to primary commodities by rich countries
Primary products such as cocoa, tea and coffee, sell for relatively low prices, so the farmers growing and selling such products make relatively little. However, once these products have been processed, branded and turned into the goods you see on the supermarket shelves, they can sell several times the original price. The problem (for developing countries) is that most of this processing and branding is done in the West. Thus, poor countries stay poor, and rich countries get rich.
With some commodities, there are several links in the chain of trade – take coffee for example – it goes from grower (in Ethiopia for example), to the local buyer, to the exporter, to the roaster (in Germany for example), to the supermarket and then to the consumer – 6 links in the chain. A bag of coffee might cost the consumer £2.50 in the supermarket, but the grower is lucky (very lucky) if they receive even 10% of this.
Two good video sources which illustrate how low-value exports don’t generate enough income for development are the movie „Black Gold‟ which illustrates exploitation of coffee farmers in Ethiopia, and there is also Stacey Dooley’s „Kids with Machetes‟ which illustrates the low wages paid to cocoa farmers in The Ivory Coast.
The terms of trade are often biased against poor countries
Western nations impose tariffs (import taxes) or quotas (simply limits on how much a country can import) on goods from the developing world, which seriously impairs the ability of poor countries to make money from exports.
At the same time as restricting imports from poorer countries, Western governments subsidize some of their own industries. This results in over-production in some sectors, which can result in cheap, subsidized Western goods being dumped on poor countries, which undermines local industries in poorer countries. This happened in Haiti in the early 1990s, when cheap, subsidized American rice was dumped on the Haitian market, forcing local rice farmers out of business (because the American rice was cheaper.
This 2015 video from Al Jazeera focuses on this issue in Kenya – Kenyan cotton farmers are finding it very difficult to compete with subsidized American cotton farmers. You get to see the large scale U.S. operation which is subsidized by the American government, who exports their cotton: the US is the largest cotton exporter in the world. And you also get to see how American cotton production contrasts with the much smaller scale nature of Kenyan cotton production, cotton which they cannot export because they cannot compete with the subsidized US cotton.
More recently, Dependency Theorists have become concerned with the recent increase in bilateral ‘free trade’ agreements (FTAs). For example, in 2007, the EU singed FTAs with India which opened up Indian markets to the import of poultry and dairy products, despite the fact that 85% of demand is met locally by Indian farmers, and the introduction of big supermarket chains into the Indian marketplace.
Poor countries have been pressurized into exporting to clear their debts
The World Bank sees loans and debt as a ‘normal’ part of development, and poor countries are required to maintain repayments on (often low-interest) development loans to be eligible for more loans, thus keeping up repayments on loans is a crucial part of development for many countries.
Ellwood (2004) argues that this has resulted in the ‘social violence of the market’ – the constantly escalating pressure on farmers and workers in the developing world to produce more for less, which results in a problem called ‘immiserating trade’ – the more a developing country trades, the poorer it gets.
Marxists conclude that the terms of world trade are far from equal. Developing countries are very much junior partners in global trading relationships and are consequently exploited by more powerful countries, TNCs and their agents.
Chapman et al (2016) – A Level Sociology Student Book Two [Fourth Edition] Collins. ISBN-10: 0007597495
‘Free’ trade* refers to the relative absence of government interference in the affairs of private businesses and the consumers who buy their products. Free trade depends on free trade agreements.
Free Trade agreements are policies established between countries and private businesses which make it relatively easy for companies to produce and sell goods in more than one country, so the ‘free’ in free trade means the freedom of businesses from the restrictive power of government.
Governments can restrict free trade across international boarders by doing the following:
Imposing tariffs – which are taxes that nations impose on imports. Tariffs increase the cost of goods, and make it harder for companies to sell their goods abroad. (Quotas are similar but blunter instrument than tariffs, they are simply a limit which governments put on the number or value of imports they will accept from certain countries in any given time period)
Subsidizing domestic industries – which are government hand-outs or tax breaks on domestic companies – if a government does this, then it makes domestic goods cheaper and foreign goods relatively more expensive – it’s effectively the opposite of tariffs.
Imposing high taxes on profits – which reduces incentives for private companies to invest and produce goods.
Having too many regulations – which require that companies pay workers minimum wages, do health and safety assessments, and take care of the environment.
It follows that Free trade agreements tend to focus on:
Eliminating tariffs and quotas
Eliminating government subsidies
lowering taxes on profits
Reducing regulation and protection.
Free trade opens up foreign markets and lowers barriers for foreign companies that otherwise might not be able to compete against local businesses. Without free trade agreements, there would probably be less trading between countries.
The idea of free trade goes back a long way
One of the most well- known historic proponents of free trade was Adam Smith. In his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations Smith argued that the ‘invisible hand’ of the free-market would ensure that producers produced what consumers wanted as efficiently as possible.
David Ricardo expanded on Smith’s ideas arguing that countries tended to have a comparative advantage in providing different goods and services and should do what they do better and cheaper than other countries, and in this way everyone benefits. For example, the U.K. climate is well-suited to growing apples, but not sugar-cane, and vie-versa for Jamaica, so it makes sense that two countries specialize in each crop and trade, rather than trying to grow everything themselves.
Modernisation Theory and Neoliberalism both argue that developing countries need to increase their share of world trade (export and import more) in order to develop, and both recognize that most developing countries have enormous potential to increase exports, given that they have a two important ‘competitive advantages’ over the West –an abundance of natural resources, which the West no longer has, and abundance of cheap labour.
However, the two theories have very different ideas about how poor countries should increase trade – modernization theory prefers aid to encourage trade, whereas neoliberalism is suspicious of aid, believing that poor countries should move straight to opening up the markets to attract TNC investment.
Modernisation theory argues that increasing trade with other countries is a crucial part of ‘climbing the ladder of development’.
Initially, in phase two, or ‘the pre-conditions for take-off’, developing countries themselves have very low levels of capital and expertise, and so they require aid from the West, in the form of capital investment and western advice, which could help countries establish an industrial base, for example.
In the ‘take off’ phase (phase three) of Rostow’s model, countries will start to manufacture goods for export to other countries, and the ‘drive to maturity’ phase (phase four) sees earnings from exports reinvested in public infrastructure such as education, which results in a higher skilled workforce and further integration into the global economy.
After 60 years, the ‘age of high mass consumption’ should have been attained which means that countries are equal trading partners in the global market place.
Reid-Henry (2012) argues that neoliberalists see global free-trade markets as both the means and desired end for development.
Neoliberal development policy argues that developing countries need to create a ‘business-friendly’ environment in order to encourage inward investment from wealthy individuals and Transnational Corporations.
Reid-Henry suggests there are four key organizing principles of neoliberal policy:
The governments of developing countries are expected to pull down all barriers to Western investment
Workers in the developing world are expected to work hard and cheaply for Transnational Corporations
Public services need to be privatized
Social life should be organized around the profit motive.
Many developing countries have actually set up huge Export Processing Zones, or Free Trade Zones In order to attract TNCs developing countries have set up. These are special areas in that country, typically close to ports, which offer incentives for Transnational Corporations to invest, including tax breaks, low wages, and lax health and safety legislation.
In Neoliberal theory, corporations will help a country develop by providing jobs and training. The money earned will be spent on goods and services at home and abroad creating more money to invest and (limited) tax revenue for further development.
It is true that there is an obvious relationship between trade and economic growth. The world’s top five countries, ranked by GDP, export (and thus profit from) 40% of the world’s goods. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 GDP countries export less than 1% of the world’s goods.
However, dependency theorists argue that ‘free-trade’ has historically brought more benefits to wealthy countries and corporations compared to developing countries.
*The reason I typically parenthesize the ‘free’ in ‘free trade’ is that for free trade to happen effectively it actually requires a substantial legal framework, which requires government and a legal system to which all parties agree – the most obvious aspect of which is the protection of private property – which basically says that if you make a profit, you can keep it, rather than having someone come and simply take it off you.
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