Archive for December, 2015
GRANDIOSE statements from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are the region’s Christmas crackers: they appear at regular intervals, create a commotion but contain little of substance. In November the leaders of the club’s ten members declared that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)—a single market around which goods, services, capital and “skilled labour” are supposed to flow freely—would come into being on December 31st. So will South-East Asia’s 622m people wake up in a new world in 2016, or will the AEC prove another paper crown?
The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. For one thing, much of the work towards economic integration has been done: by ASEAN’s reckoning, 79.5% of the measures the AEC involves have already been implemented. ASEAN already attracts large amounts of foreign investment, and its leaders have been talking up integration and regionalism since the organisation was founded in 1967. So the AEC represents less a radical change than an attempt to accelerate existing trends.
But anyone hoping that ASEAN is about to turn into an Asian…Continue reading
PFIZER has always prided itself on its commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). The drugs giant talks loftily about “embracing our responsibility to society”. It insists that it does as much as it can to make sure that the world’s poor can gain access to its products. It is particularly proud of the work that it does with NGOs and “other global health stakeholders” to strengthen and improve health-care systems. But this has not deterred it from seeking a gargantuan “tax inversion”. The company intends, as part of a $160 billion takeover of Allergan, to shift its tax domicile from America to Ireland, where Allergan is domiciled, and where corporate-income taxes are considerably lower. Pfizer’s shareholders no doubt rejoiced: in 2014 the company would have saved $1 billion of the $3.1 billion it paid to the US Treasury. But many Americans were outraged: Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, promised to impose an “exit tax” on companies that engage in such tactics.
A paper in the January issue of the Accounting Review suggests that Pfizer is far from unusual in trying to…Continue reading