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Financial Times: Shell chief's statement was irresponsible

Shell chief's statement was irresponsibleBy Henrik Rasmussen

 

Published: May 22 2006 03:00 | Last updated: May 22 2006 03:00

From Mr Henrik Rasmussen.

 

 

Sir, Shell executive Jeroen van der Veer recently stated that oil companies have to accept increasingly nationalistic policies of countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia as a fact of life (“Energy landscape redesigned”, May 15). He went on to say that legal action to protect the property rights of oil companies is “counterproductive . . . good luck!”

 

This public declaration is irresponsible in the extreme. Populist leaders such as Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan president, and Evo Morales, Bolivian president, will likely interpret the Shell executive's statement as encouragement to further harass international investors with outdated socialist policies that were discredited decades ago. The result will be lower economic growth and increased poverty in the developing world.

 

Multinational corporations have become increasingly powerful and important with the advent of globalisation. These companies have lifted millions out of poverty by investing and creating jobs in developing countries, so their new position in the global hierarchy is well-deserved.

 

With power, however, comes responsibility. In the 21st century, the corporate world will need true statesmen at the helm to carefully preserve the delicate open market system that is the very foundation of globalisation.

 

Mr van der Veer may think he has bought “peace in our time” for Shell by accommodating Mr Chavez and Mr Morales, but he would do well to remember that history can be a hard judge of the statesmanship of appeasers.

 

Henrik Rasmussen,

 

President, World Growth,

 

Warrenton, Virginia 20186, US

 

 

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