ETHICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE CHALLENGES FACING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSES IN DEVELOPING AREAS Frederick Bird, Concordia University June17, 2003 (Preliminary draft: Please do not cite without permission) Introduction: We now live in a world where the lives of all peoples are inextricably inter-connected. We have been brought closer to each other through modern systems of transportation and telecommunication. Commercially the links between people grow in number and complexity. Elements in the products we use, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat may come from quite diverse places from all over the earth. The volume of trade between countries has greatly increased. We are inter-connected in other ways as well. A disease like AIDs begins in
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Most decisively, human differ, often markedly, in their basic life chances. In some parts of the world people can expect to live much shorter lives than in other parts. In the economically developing areas of the world, humans are much more likely to face illness and hunger, to experience poverty and material deprivation, to receive less education and fewer opportunities. As humans have become more interconnected, the differences in wealth and income levels have remained. In many areas they have increased. Worldwide we have enough resources so that all humans could live well-nourished, well-clothed and housed, and well-educated lives. Yet billions of humans suffer from poverty (Forstater 2002, chp 2).
What are the responsibilities of internationally inter-connected businesses in a world like this? International businesses serve to transfer more resources and greater wealth between the economically developed and the economically developing areas of the world than do either charitable associations or formal government aid programs. What are responsibilities of international businesses in a world that has become more globally interconnected and yet remains culturally diverse and deeply divided between affluent and impoverished areas? (2) This is not a question that can be ignored or avoided. While fairer trading relations offer the opportunities to foster economic