Exports of financial services have grown tremendously in the past ten years. Many financial service providers have moved abroad, setting up branches or acquiring banks or insurance companies in other countries. This international expansion has been facilitated by the liberalisation of financial services - which means everything from the opening of markets for financial service providers to the abolishment of restrictions on cross-border capital flows.
As far as Europe is concerned, financial market integration and liberalisation reached a new stage with the introduction of the Euro in 1999 - which was accompanied by a great merger wave, leading to further concentration in banking and insurance. The impacts of this process on consumers, employees and the local economy are, however, ambiguous - especially in countries on the periphery of Europe whose financial markets are now dominated by foreign banks and insurance companies.
The impact of financial services liberalisation on developing countries in the South are even more problematic. Given that their financial markets are usually quite small and burdened by high levels of foreign debt, these countries have no chance competing with global players like Citigroup or Deutsche Bank. But although experience has proven that deregulation of financial markets can lead to severe crises, the European Union (as well as the US) are using the current WTO negotiations to push for further deregulation and market opening.
Should developing countries follow the advice from the G7 as well as the WTO and IMF/WB and abolish all regulations which stand in the way of big banks and insurance companies? What is the content of the requests on financial services, the EU has delivered in the Doha Round - and how should these requests be judged from a civil society point of view? What experiences have been made in different regions (Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa) with the liberalisation of financial services in general and the activities of foreign banks in particular?
The two-day expert workshop, organised by World Economy, Ecology & Development will try to find some answers to these questions, raise awareness for the development impact of the ongoing WTO negotiations on (financial) services and help develop strategies to counter the growing power of the financial services lobby in Europe and elsewhere. Among the speakers are Dr. Patrick Bond (Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg), Marianne Hochuli (Berne Declaration/Erklärung von Bern), Dr. Hannes Hofbauer (journalist and book author, Vienna), Prof. Dr. Jörg Huffschmid (University of Bremen), Oupa Lehulere (Khanya College, Johannesburg), Kavaljit Singh (Public Interest Research Centre, Delhi), Myriam Vander Stichele (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations/SOMO, Amsterdam) and Prof. Dr. Brigitte Young (University of Münster).
The seminar is supported by the NRW-Foundation for Environment and Development: www.sue-nrw.de/
Date: 22. and 23. June 2005
In: Gustav-Stresemann-Institut, Langer Grabenweg 68, 53175 Bonn
Registration: WEED, Suleika Reiners
Please register till 15. June.