High-Tech Trade Wars: U. S.-Brazilian Conflicts in the Global Economy

Overview

Sara Schoonmaker uses the example of the computer technology industry to delve into one of the key political conflicts of our time: the construction of a free-trade regime determined to open markets around the world to global capital, and attempts by Latin American, African, and other governments to resist the process.

Presenting a multidimensional view of the globalization process, High-Tech Trade Wars focuses on Brazil's attempt to develop a local computer industry through ...

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Overview

Sara Schoonmaker uses the example of the computer technology industry to delve into one of the key political conflicts of our time: the construction of a free-trade regime determined to open markets around the world to global capital, and attempts by Latin American, African, and other governments to resist the process.

Presenting a multidimensional view of the globalization process, High-Tech Trade Wars focuses on Brazil's attempt to develop a local computer industry through development policy and the conflict between the United States and Brazilian governments over the U.S. movement to block such efforts.

The Brazilian computer case is a prime example of a nationalist effort to promote local growth of a key high-technology industry. Initiated in the 1970s, the informatics strategy was designed to transform Brazil's position in the international division of labor by developing skills, technologies, products, and industries in the field. The National Informatics Law of 1984 placed restrictions on foreign firms investing in Brazil's mini and personal computer markets and controlled foreign imports and the acquisition of foreign technologies. The law, scheduled to be in effect until 1992, was meant to protect the emerging Brazilian computer and telecommunications industries and to prepare local firms to compete in the global marketplace.

However, in 1985, the momentum for informatics development was disrupted as U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced an investigation challenging the Brazilian informatics law as a potential violation of U.S. interests under the 1974 Trade Act. Reagan's action, and the threat of possible trade sanctions, unleashed powerful geopolitical demands on Brazilian state officials, who struggled to implement the informatics policy in the midst of a trade war with the United States.

The Brazilian informatics policy was eventually dismantled by its own government -- after crumbling under the pressure of the broader process of neoliberal globalization. Schoon-maker describes the U.S. government's investigation of Brazilian informatics as a bilateral dispute over whether the neoliberal or nationalist development discourse would govern global computer markets. This high-tech trade war exemplifies U.S. government opposition to efforts by former Third World countries to challenge historical patterns of U.S. power and control in global capitalism, and provides a rich case study of the politics of globalization and neoliberalism.

High-Tech Trade Wars, one of the first books to examine Brazilian informatics development in the context of the trade war with the United States, features interviews with Brazilian industrialists and state officials who were involved with Brazil's informatics policy decisions. Schoonmaker also includes discussions of grass-roots-level protests organized against neoliberal globalization during the recent meetings of the WTO in Seattle and of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822941798
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Pitt Latin American Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Globalization, Neoliberalism, and the Brazilian Informatics Case 1
2 Information Trade Politics: From Telecommunications to Trade Policy 31
3 Who's Afraid of Brazilian Informatics? 72
4 The Double Desire: Mediation and Resistance through Software Policy 90
5 From Technological Autonomy to Neoliberalism: Constructing an Open Market 122
6 Incipient Denationalization: Brazilian Informatics in 2001 158
7 Neoliberal Globalization and Beyond: Protest, Celebration, and Alternatives to Development 171
List of Abbreviations 189
Notes 191
References 197
Index 213
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