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Offensive and Defensive Responses by European Multinationals to a World of Trade Blocs

John M. Stopford

No 64, OECD Development Centre Working Papers from OECD Publishing

Abstract: European multinationals show a growing divergence in their response to the formation of regional trade blocs, according to evidence from seven industries. European firms that are strong competitors at the world level are able to adjust aggressively to changes within Europe without disturbing their global strategies. Weaker firms are prone to becoming more inward-looking in Europe, and to risk further loss of global competitive position. The contrast is particularly marked in industries like chemicals and consumer products, which emphasize exports as a means to serve international markets, and the weaker firms are especially prone to call for protectionist help from Brussels in trade-intensive industries, like apparel. While the lobbying pressures on national and European institutions differ according to the global competitive strength of the leading European firms in a particular industry, the effect is one-sided: the pressure for protection or support is strong in industries where the ... Face à la constitution des blocs d'échanges régionaux, les multinationales européennes font preuve de réactions de plus en plus divergentes selon les tendances apparentes dans sept industries. Les firmes européennes qui ont un fort niveau de compétitivité mondiale s'adaptent agressivement aux changements qui se produisent à l'intérieur même de l'Europe sans que cela ne modifie leur stratégie globale. Les firmes les moins compétitives vont davantage centrer leurs activités sur le marché européen et leur compétitivité mondiale en sera affectée. Le contraste est particulièrement frappant dans des secteurs industriels comme ceux de la chimie et des produits de consommation qui donnent la priorité aux exportations sur le marché international et ces firmes moins compétitives solliciteront l'intervention protectionniste de Bruxelles pour des produits manufacturés à forte intensité commerciale comme les vêtements. Alors que l'action des groupes de pression sur les institutions nationales et ...

Date: 1992-05-01
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