corporate diplomacy

If there ever were a time for a new beginning in this country, it is now. The recession is still very much with us. Global crises and disasters compound daily. Our national attention is consumed with political candidates on both sides of the aisle who seem to have completely lost their minds. And yet amidst the absurdities, there are signs of real hope and cause for optimism.

In the United States, the pressure on Facebook, relatively mild so far, comes mostly from journalists and advocacy groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center. But the time is coming when Facebook will begin to face ever more intense international pressure from foreign governments unpleased, for one reason or another, with how the site operates.

The Adolescent Girls Initiative partners the World Bank, the Nike Foundation and governments of developing and developed nations to empower girls in poor countries. The two-year-old program is helping girls in Asia, Africa and the Middle East gain the education and skills they need to transition into the workforce.

The timing for Walmart's first buyer-seller summit in India earlier this month couldn't have been better. As Indian firms keen to tap the retailing giant's global network prepared their pitches, the Indian government gave the first concrete sign that it may be ready to open up its potentially huge retail market to foreign investors — an opportunity that America's largest retailer has been chasing for as many as 20 years.

Corporate India Friday underlined the need for much better economic engagement with people of Indian origin in Africa at a well-attended event to mark the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first indentured labourers here from India.

Wal-Mart has announced that it is prepared to pay approximately $4.2 billion for Massmart Holdings. Massmart Holdings is a Johannesburg-headquartered chain of discount superstores with a grand total of 290 stores in 13 African countries under brand names such as Makro, Game, and Builders Warehouse. Massmart stores can be found as far away as Ghana and Nigeria and there are stores even in President Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

The classroom walls at the Hungarian-Chinese bilingual primary school here are decorated with Chinese calendars and banners. Chinese lanterns hang from the ceilings of the main entrance hall. There are stacks of new Chinese language books in the staff room, provided by the Chinese authorities, who also send two teachers a year, depending on the school’s needs.

Some believe the financial crisis has given Chinese enterprises a golden opportunity for overseas mergers and acquisitions. But is it the right time for them to "go global?" What are the risks of venturing overseas, and what are the potential benefits?