World Investment Report 2009

Transnational Corporations, Agricultural Production and Development

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The World Investment Report 2009, subtitled Transnational Corporations, Agricultural Production and Development analyses two major issues: How have foreign direct investment (FDI) flows reacted to the current financial and economic crisis? How do traditional and new foreign investors - transnational corporations (TNCs) - affect agriculture, the basis of livelihood in many developing countries? According to the report, after decades of slow growth, TNCs’ interest and participation in agriculture - including FDI - is again on the rise. Despite this increase, in most countries today only a small share of FDI goes to agriculture. Renewed interest by foreign investors in agricultural investment is significant enough to raise questions about whether FDI and other forms of TNC participation in agriculture can contribute to the development of this long neglected industry. WIR 2009 suggests an integrated policy approach that takes into account concerns arising from TNC involvement.




For the greater part of humanity, primarily in developing countries, agriculture remains at the core of their existence: it provides sustenance, supports people’s livelihoods and defines their traditions. Moreover, the bounty of agricultural production in many societies the world over, and throughout the ages, has created surplus value that has underpinned their material basis. This applies equally to urban civilizations founded in the past, the triangular trade of the colonial period which aided the industrialization of Europe and North America (Thomas, 1997), the more recent transformation of Taiwan Province of China from a tropical agricultural island to an electronics superpower (Lee, 1971; Wu, 1984), and the significant agriculture-based dynamism and diversification of Brazil’s economy today (Brainard and Martinez- Diaz, 2009).


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