MNEmerge Newsletter November 2015

MNEmerge panel session to take place at the EIBA 2015 conference

The findings of the MNEmerge project, along with other issues related to the project’s themes, will be discussed in a panel session Multinationals, Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction at the upcoming European International Business Academy (EIBA) Annual Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on the 2nd of December, 2015. The panelists of the session are Godfred Frempong (CSIR-STEPRI, Ghana), Pervez Ghauri (University of Birmingham, UK), Suraksha Gupta (University of Kent, UK), Antti Kosonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland), Fatima Wang (King’s College London, UK), Bruno Woeran (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland), and Juha Väätänen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland).

The 41st EIBA Annual Conference will be organised at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 1–3 December, 2015. The theme for the EIBA 2015 conference is International Business after the BRIC’s Rush. Read more about the conference here.

Conference on the Evolving Regime in Intellectual Property Protection held in India

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) along with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Third World Network (TWN) and Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID) hosted a three day national conference The Evolving Regime in Intellectual Property Protection under the umbrella of the Health Economics Association of India (HEAI). The conference was organised at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, India on 2–4 November, 2015.

A major policy debate surrounding access to medicines in India and MNEs’ contribution to the local market involves intellectual property protection. The intellectual property regime of a country affects access to medicines by impacting the affordability of essential and life-saving medicines. On the other hand, it influences the decisions of MNEs to introduce new medicines in an emerging market such as India based on the considerations of scope of profitability and the ease of regulatory approvals, thereby impacting availability of new medicines.

The objectives of the conference were to discuss the experiences of India and other developing countries in implementing the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) during the past two decades and its implications on access to medicines. Furthermore, the conference aimed to examine the options available to address the development challenges posed by the evolving regime of intellectual property protection.

The conference brought together several national and international experts, and was also attended by over 200 students, research scholars, professors, etc. from across India. The diverse, multidisciplinary mix of participants ensured enriching discussions. Moreover, over 50 academicians were given the opportunity to present their work in the various sessions over the three days.

Day one of the conference witnessed the MNEmerge-related session on Multinational Enterprises and Access to Medicines chaired by Mr. Bruno Woeran from Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. The session had two expert speakers who introduced the current debate on the topic: Professor Suraksha Gupta from the University of Kent, the United Kingdom introduced the MNEmerge project and Professor Reji Joseph from Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID), India discussed the current and potential contribution of MNEs through foreign direct investment (FDI) and introduction of new technology. The floor was then given to academicians who presented their work, followed by an insightful discussion.

The conference gave the MNEmerge research team an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the current policy environment as well as the challenges it poses. At the same time, it provided them a platform to deliberate on the future course of action for the several key stakeholders. The new learnings are particularly useful in terms of providing policy recommendations for states as well as strategy recommendations for MNEs and civil society organisations, which is the next task of the MNEmerge project’s Indian research team.

MNEmerge research findings discussed in India

Regional workshop in IndiaAs a part of the MNEmerge project, a regional policy workshop was organised at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in Gurgaon, India on the 21st of August, 2015. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the research findings of the MNEmerge team together with the relevant stakeholders, such as policy makers and NGOs, as well as to receive feedback from various experts to further strengthen the ongoing study.

The main theme of the workshop was to discuss the contribution of pharmaceutical MNEs to facilitating access to medicines in India. In addition, the contribution of MNEs to sanitation, agriculture and poverty alleviation in India was discussed in order to form a more holistic picture of the overall impact of MNEs on the Indian society. The research conducted by PHFI indicated that MNEs have established linkages with the local market in India, which has had positive spillover effects in the overall economy by helping in asset and employment creation. MNEs have also undertaken various CSR initiatives, such as patient access programmes and educational and awareness programmes. However, the investments of MNEs in R&D and innovations have been critisised due to the fact that the research priorities of the firms are not in line with the public health priorities in India.

In general, lack of sanitation was highlighted as one of the main societal challenges worldwide, having adverse impacts on the lives of millions of people. Consequently, improvement in sanitation could have wide-ranging positive effects to people’s health and quality of life. MNEs can play an active role through CSR related activities in the improvement of sanitation and are already involved in, for instance, the construction of toilets and the provision of clean drinking water. These activities are seen to bring benefits for firms as well, for instance in the form of improved image and strengthened customer loyalty.

Workshop on MNEs in Africa held in Ghana

Workshop participantsAs a part of the MNEmerge activities in Ghana, CSIR-STEPRI organised a regional stakeholder workshop to create awareness about the project, and to exchange views with various stakeholders on the contribution of MNEs to Ghana’s socio-economic development, especially in the areas of employment generation and poverty reduction. The two-day workshop under the theme Multinational enterprises in Africa: Challenges and options for effective development took place at CSIR-STEPRI in Accra, Ghana on the 10th and 11th of August, 2015. The workshop had about 45 participants, including representatives from the government, business community, NGOs, research organisations and the media.

The workshop included presentations on various themes, such as Ghana’s experiences on attracting MNEs, experiences of MNEs on engagement with local firms in Ghana, the role of MNEs in the country’s agricultural sector, and the impact of MNEs on local development and poverty reduction. Furthermore, group discussions were held on the role of African governments in enhancing MNEs’ impacts on economies and on the effectiveness of MNEs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The participants of the workshop agreed that the activities of MNEs affect all areas of the MDGs, including eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, promoting gender equality and women empowerment, ensuring environmental sustainability as well as global partnership for development. Furthermore, it was concluded that the African governments take various measures to support MNEs’ contribution to the local socio-economic development and to the achievement of the MDGs, for instance in terms of creating a legal and regulatory framework and a functional operational environment for the companies. However, further actions should be undertaken for instance to provide support mechanisms for SMEs, as well as to facilitate effective linkages between MNEs and SMEs.

The third MNEmerge project meeting organised in Oxford

The third MNEmerge project meeting was organised in Oxford on the 15th and 16th of October, 2015. The meeting was hosted by the Technology and Management Centre for Development (TMCD) of the University of Oxford. In addition to the actual project meeting, the first Advisory Board meeting of the MNEmerge project was held on the 14th of October. The three days were full of interesting discussions regarding the project’s current state and the next steps, and particularly the Advisory Board provided new ideas and valuable feedback for the MNEmerge research team.

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