Exposing the Fiscal Grabbing Lurking Behind the Global Land Rush
52 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2013 Last revised: 13 Jul 2013
Date Written: April 16, 2013
The global land rush (land grabbing) is attracting an increasing attention by social movements, NGOs, academics, governments and even international financial institutions. However, the excessive concentration of the debate over the concrete act of enclosing land (and now water) and over the consequences that derive, is obscuring a third form of private accumulation of public value, which equally originates from the ongoing process of global transformation of agrarian structure. Starting from the empirical analysis of the available investment contracts concluded between some peripheral countries and land investors, this article aims at exposing how the combination between their clauses and the surrounding legal architecture is utilized to prevent the target country, but also the rest of the global community, from enjoying a relevant share of the value produced by the grabbed land. Embedded into a continuous legal race to the bottom, land deals impose trivial land rents, tax holidays, low fiscal pressure, and unrestricted mobility of foreign currencies. The space and time of the investment become Special Fiscal Zones, contract-made private havens that represent which should raise deep concerns.
Keywords: land grabbing, tax havens, fiscal elusion, accumulation by dispossession, BIT, investment agreement, redistribution, neo-colonialism
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