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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 2. March 11, 1975


Iron shark covered with the logos of multinational companies

The multinational (or transnational) enterprises which have proliferated over the past 25 years, represent one of the most spectacular phenomena of our epoch with an importance that circumscribes not only economic, financial and industrial areas but also directly influences governmental policy and state relationships.

The multinationals, with their economic-financial-political power, have become a species of 'super-states that pressure, control and subjugate many underdeveloped countries.

The term 'multinationals' is generally applied to those companies that operate in a minimum of six countries and whose foreign branches represent at least 20% of the operations and returns of the parent company. These monopolies-obviously extract billions of dollars in profits from their annual sales.

These are the characteristics of the 200 US enterprises that, because of their dimensions (with branches in more than 20 countries) have been given the name of 'multinationals'. Among the most important are: General Motors, (whose annual volume of sales reaches some $30 billion, a figure higher than the Gross National Product of all the countries of Central America and of many of South America); Ford Motor Company (annual sales higher than the GNP of Austria), General Electric, Standard Oil. ITT, IBM, Chrysler, Gulf, etc. which represent 80% of all US direct investments abroad and have an annual commercial volume of close to $200 billion. In 1950, the US multinationals had 7000 branches abroad (with investments of $4.5 billion). By 1966 they controlled 23000 and today must have more than 25000 subsidiaries scattered in every corner of the world with a total investment of $1.9 billion. With the export of capital to the underdeveloped countries, the US multinationals obtain fabulous profits. It is enough to point out, for example, that in 1970 alone, they extracted from those countries $3.1 billion, a figure that represents more than 50% of all profits returned to the United States from direct investments abroad.

Thus it is easy to understand why they have been called 'invisible empires'.

As we have seen, the annual economic budgets that the majority of multinationals manage are far greater than the GNP of most underdeveloped countries and equivalent or superior to those of the smallest European nations. In addition, the indices of multinational growth are much higher than those of countries, according to the economic magazine Fortune and Principal Economic Indicators, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).