Prior to the Volvo announcement a few weeks ago, rumors carried a possibility that South Carolina might be considered for a new Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing facility. Though British in origin, JLR operates as a subsidiary of Tata Motors headquartered in India. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Tata Motors chose Slovakia to build a plant with a capacity to produce 300,000 cars per year.
I was curious why Slovakia was chosen over South Carolina. Do they provide a better business climate? Would their culture mesh better with an Anglo-Indian company? Is their historical past less controversial than ours?
Let’s take a look.
Slovakia has about 5.4 million people; we have 4.8 million. Their country contains 19,000 square miles; our state has 32,000. They have no ports; we have a deep water port in Charleston.
Like India, we were a British colony. Our laws, customs, language are all derived from the English. Slovakia derives theirs from Poland.
Automotive Business Climate –
Slovakia manufactures 500,000 cars per year; we manufacture 240,000 – with Volvo expected to add another 100,000 per year. They have an extensive automotive supplier base; ours continues to grow substantially.
Modern Historical Past –
Slovakia signed the Tripartite Act with Nazi Germany in 1940. They were the first Axis country to deport their Jewish citizens to the German death camps. Before deportation, they forced 57,000 of their Jewish citizens to work in Slovakian-based labor camps. Slovakia continues to legally discriminate against its Roma citizens according to the UN. In human trafficking, they are currently ranked 77th out of 167 on the Global Slavery Index.
South Carolina discriminated against its black citizens through state segregation laws until the Federal courts overturned them in the 1960’s. Our Legislature in cooperation with our Attorney General formed a human trafficking task force in 2012. They recently issued their plan to eliminate this form of modern slavery. We are ranked 145th on the Global Slavery Index.
For the record, India is ranked 5th on the Global Slavery Index. They have over 14 million of their citizens in some form of modern slavery.
During the Confederate flag debate, we heard how South Carolina has lost substantial business due to the flag flying on the Confederate soldiers monument. After researching the background on Slovakia, if South Carolina has indeed lost business because of the flag to countries like Slovakia, maybe we need to abolish our Commerce Department and hire a new Governor.
Or better yet, instead of taking issue with our ancestors, maybe we need the type of political leadership in the Statehouse who are not ashamed to say that in absolute terms of modern commitment to human rights, we are the good guys.