An increasing proportion of the world’s labour force is engaged in activities that are linked to international trade and capital flows (World Bank, 1995). Because labour is the key asset of the poor this means that the livelihoods of many of the world’s poorest people are affected by the activities of international firms and investors. Yet international trade and investment can either enhance the employment opportunities, living standards and quality of life of people, or undermine them. In particular, the impact of foreign direct investment, which is the focus of this chapter, depends on many factors including the nature and quality of investment, the control and distribution of production and marketing, and the terms on which countries receive investments, among other things. These factors are in turn conditioned by the institutional and regulatory framework which governs foreign investment and trade.
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