[Documents menu]Multilaterial Agreement on Investment (MAI)
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 98 14:18:06 CST
From: Michael Eisenscher <meisenscher@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Making World Safe For Corp. Criminals; NAFTA Blamed for Heroin
Anti-Working Class Trade Agreement

The MAI: Making the world safe for corporate criminals

By Shawn Ewald,
4 January 1998

A little-known, unelected, unaccountable international trade group called the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is busily drafting a document called the MAI or Multilateral Agreement on Investments. The MAI would allow, for instance, a transnational corporation to not only disregard any and all labor, safety, health, and environmental regulations that it deemed harmful to it's bottom line, but to file suit against a country before an international tribunal if the offending country refused to waive or repeal those regulations.

The OECD, a Paris based trade organization consisting of 29 member nations and dominated by the United States, has been working for nearly two years on the MAI in virtual secrecy. A draft of the agreement was scheduled to be presented at the spring Ministers' meeting of the OECD last May, but the drafters have since concluded that they may need up to another year to complete it.

The only known copy of the draft in progress that is available to the public is a "pirated" one which has been circulating among progressive journalists and lobbying groups for the past few months.

The MAI draft is well over 170 pages long and proclaims, on nearly every page, future unrestricted freedoms for foreign investors and transnational corporations. Simultaneously, it enumerates new and unprecedented responsibilities for nations, and their taxpaying citizens, while requiring absolutely no comparable responsibilities on the part of the investors and corporations who will benefit from this agreement.

Each Contracting party shall accord to investments in its territory full and constant protection, and shall not limit in any way the operation, management, maintenance, use, enjoyment, or disposal of investments inits territory of investors of another Contracting party. MAI: Part I, Section IV Investment Protection, Subsection 1. General Treatment. NOTE: the term contracting party refers to an MAI member nation.

Countries that sign the MAI will be required to:

  • Open all economic sectors, including real estate, broadcasting and natural resources to foreign ownership.
  • Treat foreign investors no less favorably than domestic firms.
  • Remove performance requirements, which are laws that require investors to behave in a certain way in exchange for market access.
  • Remove restrictions on the movement of capital.
  • Compensate investors in full when their assets are expropriated, either through seizure or "unreasonable" regulation.
  • Ensure that states and localities comply with the MAI.
  • Accept a dispute-resolution process allowing investors to sue governments for damages before international panels when they believe a country's laws are in violation of MAI rules.

This last aspect of the MAI will literally give corporations the right to sue an MAI member nation, or a state, province or county within that nation, if that nation violates any of the terms of the MAI. For instance, transnational corporations could take the United States before an international tribunal if it refused to waive, modify, or repeal minimum wage laws, environmental regulations, or any law, statute, or regulation that limited "in any way the operation, management, maintenance, use, enjoyment, or disposal of investments in its territory." This newly created "right" of corporations to literally take nations to court finally makes the assertion that corporations are nations in their own right into a frightening reality.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. is the chief supporter of this agreement and the most extreme advocate for corporate "rights." A congressional vote of ratification on this agreement, which one of its drafters has called "a constitution for a single global economy," could happen as early as next year. The AFL-CIO is already aware of the MAI and is actively educating members of congress about the dangers it poses. But it will take more than just the lobbying efforts of labor unions to kill this treaty: if we, as citizens, don't collectively raise hell over this issue, you can bet that our elected representatives in Washington will take the path of least resistance when the time comes to cast their vote.

If you haven't already informed yourself about this planned enslavement of humanity to international capital, get informed, inform your neighbors and friends, and organize.

For information about the MAI on the Internet go to:

MAI no thanks! http://www.islandnet.com/plethora. An excellent Canadian site. The complete text of the MAI can be found here.

The Preamble Collaborative for Public Policy. http://www.RTK.NET:80/preamble/index.html

Economic Globalization (An excellent site offering information on NAFTA, GATT, the MAI, and economic globalization issues in general.) http://www.panix.com/~jimcook/globalization

Or phone or write:
Preamble Collaborative (The group that broke the MAI story in the U.S.)
1737 21st Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
202-265-3263 (phone), 202-265-3647(fax)