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V Deep

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BGs article in today's Independent (UK) - RED Edition
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Here's the link to Geldof's article in the online RED Edition of today's Independent.  You have to scroll ALL the way down the page!


http://comment.independent.co.uk/commentators/article484980.ece


Opprobrium!  He cracks me up when he breaks out the big words....



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V Deep

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OK, this has been bothering me since I read BGs comment.


As some of you know, back in the happy summer of 2001, before a bunch of f*ckers took down some buildings in my fair city, I was taking classes in the law schools of both the University College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast.  I sat in on a bunch, but I was actually registered for "Comparative International Contracts" and "International Business Transactions." 


Anyway, one day in Belfast, we were talking about Doha.  The Professors seemed to be obsessed with arguments on policies regarding the international banana trade, an issue which had apparently derailed Doha (if I'm remembering correctly).


We divided the class up into people representing "poor nations" and "rich nations" for a mock negotiation.   Naturally the rich nations wouldn't give an inch.


Then we discussed the whole thing.  At some point (I don't remember in which class) we'd talked about various Trademarks, especially on agricultural products, and how Europeans were extremely protective of these designations.  I'm sure "champagne" was one of them, there were lots of examples - in designations of types of cheeses as well as many other things.


I offered the idea that the rich countries could license the trademark to the poor countries; teach them how to make and then supervise production (quality control - so the value of the TM would be maintained) of whatever product it was (let's say champagne, though I don't know if it's possible to grow vineyards in Africa...but it's a big continent, so there's got to be somewhere....)


It seemed like a win-win to me, it still does.  Poor country gets a product to sell, rich country gets a percentage of revenue.


The professors looked at me like it was in interesting, but wacko, idea.  Is it ridiculous?   Since I know nothing about European culture, and less than nothing about Africa....  

Edited to add:  Thing is, it probably ties in with this - EU subsidies deny Africa's farmers of their livelihood , and I don't really understand how those two issues (TM protection and gov't subsidies) interrelate.



-- Edited by franna at 16:42, 2006-05-16

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So who would 'own' - not just licence - the TM? Ultimately the African countries should - but could they from the outset? If not wouldn't the first world still be the big fish, have control. Africa needs independence, total independence.

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V Deep

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Who would own it?  The company (or legal entity) that owns it now.  There's no reason an African licensee should own it, ever, unless they purchased the rights to it.  Yes, the first world would have control and be the big fish - in terms of that particular business.  I simply see it as a way of pumping some activity into their economy. 


If there's some money flowing around, other businesses might have a chance to develop.  Like, oh, advertising and trucking and retail stores which would all be locally owned and indepenent.


Total independence?  In a world of globalized financial markets?  No one's got that. 


Or, you could say independence is exactly what they've got now (assuming their debts are cancelled).



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I meant total independence in terms of being able to generate finance and support themselves. They need the western world to trade with, technically they need the western world - to work together. It would be good to see African countries/businesses doing well enough to negotiate investing in other countries! To do this they needd business and control from within the continent.

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Dave

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Fran, isn't that basically what is being done in other countries already?


If for example a German clothes producer wants to produce a ton of shirts, they'll buy the fabric somewhere and will have the dying and sewing done in a third (or fouth, fifth...) country. Many of the clothes we get are made in China or young eastern European countries (e.g. Lithuania, also Romania, Turkey, Bangladesh, India...) Still there's the German label on the shirt. I know the north African country of Tunisia is one of those countries where clothes are fabricated.


For the producer and the poorer countries, it's a win situation, but only on the short run. If all the production (cheaper now, because of cheaper wages, less taxes etc. in the poorer countries) takes place abroad, our own economy suffers. There's been a huge discussion here about that for years. For the poorer country, it would obviously be better to produce their own products.


But it seems like a a logical step to add more African countries to the list...


From a entrepreneurial point of view, I don't think a German producer would "trust" a poor African country's infrastructure at this point. They might not be able to meet a deadline because the train was late or something... It would take a lot of pioneer spirit to try and establish the infrastructure and just give it a try. But maybe it's just what it needs?


Ah, I must learn more about these things!



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V Deep

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Katharina wrote:


Fran, isn't that basically what is being done in other countries already?


Well, technically entirely different things....but in a broad way, as the way you describe it, very similar things.  And frankly, after thinking about it, perhaps licensing is thinking too small to make much of an impact anyhow.


As far as the rest of your argument goes....well, my short answer is - yes.


PS - I love it when BG and Bono use the phrase "vertical integration," it just cracks me up.  (As Bono did on TV last night.)  If and when they start talking about..oh...the current interpretation of section 2 of the Sherman Act (US antitrust law)....


 



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