Embeddedness: Globalization and Illicit Trade

My students have been working on this:

And then, there is this:

“RAS AL KHAIMAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — As free economic zones grow in size and number across the globe, they are increasingly popular spots for illicit trade.

Counterfeiting and money laundering can flourish in these zones, typically manufacturing and warehousing sites near ports and airports, where governments relax tax and regulatory requirements to attract foreign investment and ease the rapid movement of goods.

Conditions that attract honest businesses attract criminals, too.

“Organized crime and counterfeiters are very resourceful and creative,” said Stuart Jones, a U.S. Treasury financial attaché based in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. “They are also interested in free-trade zones to exploit the very ecosystem governments created to contribute to economic development.”

Globally, there are about 3,000 free-trade zones in about 135 countries, through which billions of dollars’ worth of goods are transferred every year. Most of the United Arab Emirates’ 36 free-trade zones are in Dubai, but other emirates are also creating them as investment vehicles, including Masdar, a green-energy zone in Abu Dhabi. The oldest free-trade zone in the Emirates, the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone, is one of the largest in the world, and handles 11 million containers each month.

That volume is reflected in the crime statistics. According to data from European Union customs, the Emirates were the No.2 source of counterfeit goods, after only China, in 2008 and 2009, said Omar Shteiwi, chairman of the Brand Owners Protection Group, an anti-counterfeiting group based in the region.

The zones’ susceptibility to illegal activities was also cited earlier this year by the Financial Action Task Force, an international watchdog organization based in Paris that co-ordinates and monitors government efforts to block money laundering and terrorist financing. Free-trade zones do improve economic opportunity, but the characteristics that make these enclaves attractive to business also create chances for illicit programs that can finance terrorism, the task force warned.”

Well, duh. Illicit trade flourishes under conditions of (1) lack of governance and oversight, and/or, (2) the presence of a very vulnerable category of people that can be either used as victims or exploited in the trade, and (3) high demand, for instance:

“South Africa’s largest private medical group has pleaded guilty to performing illegal kidney transplant operations at one of its hospitals.

It follows a seven-year investigation into transplants carried out at the facility in Durban.

The medical group Netcare admitted that children were recruited to donate their organs, and said the hospital had wrongly profited from the operations.

It agreed to pay fines of nearly 8m rand (£700,000, or $1.1m).

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says the charges related to more than 100 operations carried out at the hospital in Durban between 2001 and 2003.

Poor donors, often from Brazil, were flown in and given thousands of dollars to have a kidney removed.

These were then given to those in need, who were often wealthy Israelis.”

Well, I guess “We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people” (that is sarcasm on my part, just sayin’).

One thought on “Embeddedness: Globalization and Illicit Trade

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Embeddedness: Globalization and Illicit Trade | The Global Sociology Blog -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *