Interestingly, Intel has recently agreed to partner with the US in building a supercomputer of their own in an £136m agreement. Whilst Intel are regarded as an American multinational corporation, with listed headquarters in California, this does raise questions over a private entity’s allegiance to their host country. Whilst most are in agreement that companies should pay a fair level of tax to nations that they operate in, should these corporations have to conform to a state’s foreign policy when significant proportions of their shareholders might be from other countries? To use an extreme example, if a company with UK headquarters was 97% owned by a French consortium, then is it really British or French?
It increasingly appears that the host country is an anachronism in this modern age, where companies can provide services online, distribute goods worldwide, and enter and exit regional markets with relative ease. In addition to nation states, corporations such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s vie in the international arena, often possessing wealth greater than small countries. Apple reached a record market capitalisation of nearly $775bn in February 2015, and as much cash on hand as New Zealand. These entities are solely focused on maximising profit and increasing their market shares, regardless of the locations that they operate in.
Whereas currently nation states can choose where their biggest actors do business, private entities, particularly in the technology sector, are becoming increasingly powerful on the world stage.