The LaoFAB mailing list has posted a new AFP story (dated 4 January) called “Global trends driving ‘land grab’ in poor nations: activists.” The story asserts that large-scale land lease contracts (i.e. the creation of more and larger “zones of exception,” in Agamben/Aihwa Ong’s term) is an increasingly salient feature of today’s global capitalism, where rich states attempt to secure access to resources (energy, food, minerals) in a free market beset by uncertainty over rising prices.
What is interesting is that, for once, China is not featured in the story (though it is still mentioned in first place). Instead, Korea and the oil emirates of the Middle East are.
In one of the biggest deals, South Korea’s Daewoo Logistics said in
November it would invest about 6.0 billion dollars to develop 3.2
million acres (1.3 million hectares) in Madagascar — almost half the
size of Belgium. (…)
(Korea is also, as I have mentioned in my posts from Laos, engaged in land lease projects there that are as large as the Chinese ones.)
“We will build everything from ports and railways to markets on a
barren and untouched area,” said Shin Dong-Hyun, general manager (…)
In Cambodia, where the WFP also supplies aid, oil-rich Kuwait in
August granted a 546-million-dollar loan in return for crop
… (D)uring (Philippine) President Gloria Arroyo’s visit to Qatar in December, officials opened talks over the lease of at least 100,000 hectares of agricultural land to the emirate.
The article points out that the World Food Programme aids both Cambodia and Madagascar, so there is a sense of a “clash of developments”. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (along with NGOs) has expressed concern over the livelihoods threatened by land loss.