Despite widespread criticism of multinational companies, they have made an unparalleled contribution to the development of Eastern Europe over the last 15 years. They have brought new opportunities to the younger generation, transformed working conditions on the factory floor, saved communities from destitution, rehabilitated corrupt banking systems and laid a modern telecomunications network. They have improved and promoted local products not destroyed them; their exports have driven the growth of these economies; and their mere presence has boosted civil society. The impact has not always been positive, as many have been involved in bribery and mass layoffs, but as the experience of Eastern Europe has shown, if the power and dynamism of multinationals can be effectively harnessed, they could be less an obstacle to global development and more a vital tool in defeating poverty.

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