MAI NEWS -- MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT
ON INVESTMENT (MAI) MAI News.
A profoundly-influential trade agreement is quietly in the making called
Multilateral Agreement on Investment (M-A-I), which will be presented to
governments this [1998, northern] Spring. It gives corporations the right
to sue governments for maintaining laws to protect the health, jobs and
environment of the citizenry when the corporation finds these protections
detrimental to its profitable investment and trade. There is no reciprocal
power of governments to sue corporations. Decisions will be made by a non-elected
tribunal and all provisions will be binding for 20 years without appeal.
... [It] sounds unreal and scary, but is quite real evidence that has been
building up for decades, that global financial interests can literally
dictate the terms they like to our deeply debt-ridden governments. ...
Pressure to control a nation's resources through the M-A-I will intensify.
-- Mary Lehman, Land & Liberty, U.K., Winter 1998
The following is a collection of Newsitems and Resources about the MAI:
The MAI is a profoundly-influential trade agreement called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, which was to be signed by governments in May 1998, but protests and resistance has led to the signing being postponed to October 1998 (northern Spring).
It gives corporations the right to sue governments for maintaining laws to protect the health, jobs and environment of the citizenry but no reciprocal power of governments to sue corporations.
Evidence has been building up for decades that global financial interests can literally dictate the terms they like to our deeply debt-ridden governments.
Many Multinational Corporations (= Transnational Corporations = TNCs) use Transfer Pricing, Financial Instruments, Tax Havens, Charitable Trusts, Family Trusts, Sovereign Trusts, and other unethical methods of avoiding Company and other Taxation, then use the surplus funds to outbid and outsell competitors, thus gaining both windfall profits, regular "super profits," and effective access to the political leaders, according to some critics of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).
Links are also listed on this Website to find ethical multinational corporations.
RECOMMENDED ANTI-MAI WEBSITES as at 14 February 1998 are:
MAI Draft Text of 06 Oct 97 at: http://mai.flora.org/mai-info/9710.htm Since superseded; see below for first official draft treaty.
Corporate Europe University (Holland) at: http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/mai
Australian MAI Community Awareness Site at: http://www.avid.net.au/stopmai
AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION'S MAI LINKS: MAI Links publicised
on an ABC Webpage at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/features/mai/mai7.htm
Full transcript of Background Briefing's "The Quiet Debate" at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/bbing/index.htm
-- Program broadcast on Radio National (Sun, Nov 30, 1997). Other Background Briefing programs are also available
OECD MAI page at: http://www.oecd.org/daf/cmis/mai/maindex.htm
- Follow the progress of MAI negotiations through the MAI page of the OECD.
MAI Information Centre at: http://www.islandnet.com/~ncfs/maisite/homepage.htm
- A site hosted by a non-government organisation called the National Centre for Sustainability in Vancouver, Canada. They are concerned about the effects of the MAI and provide an overview, history and context as well as pros and cons, campaigns and commentary.
United States Council for International Business
Australian MAI Community Awareness Site at: http://www.avid.net.au/stopmai/
-- A web site sponsored by the Australian STOP MAI campaign.
Rights, responsibilities and the liberalisation of investment at: http://www.quaker.org/quno/maibrief.html
- A Quaker United Nations Office briefing on the MAI. The QUNO is a non-government organisation based in Geneva and focused on human rights, refugees, peace, disarmament and trade and development. Also see their Preliminary Assessment of the MAI at: http://www.quaker.org/quno/maiasses.html
Friends of the Earth at: http://www.foe.org/ga/mai.html
-- An environment group concerned at the effects of globalisation at the expense of small-scale, locally-based economies.
How the MAI could hinder the rights of developing countries at: http://www.panasia.org.sg/souths/twn/title/das-cn.htm
-- A Third World Network briefing paper written by India's former ambassador and permanent representative to GATT and former director of UNCTAD's trade programmes. (Did not display 08 June or 16 July 1998)
AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (ABC) online information as at
4 March 1998 :
The MAI Negotiating Text and Commentary (as of 24 April 1998) at:
but to display the words one needs Adobe Acrobat Reader at: http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html
However, it is quicker to download Acrobat from a CD-ROM, such as the one included every month in Australian Personal Computer magazine, which is on WWW at: http://apcmag.com/
The full text is also available from Federal Parliamentarians.
AUSTRALIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION has expressed doubts about MAI, including the problem that the treaty could prevent local councils from creating policies that would favour local ownership or production, and this could be preventing representative government from delivering outcomes legitimised on the grounds of broad community consensus. See: http://www.alga.com.au/mai_sub.htm
Radio 6WF held a studio interview of two Stop-MAI speakers and a business
representative with Verity James before 10am on 29 June.
17 July: Senator Dee Margetts was to address the Perth Press Club about the MAI on 17 July, 12.15 pm at the Ibis Hotel (former Prince's in Murray Street, near King St).
MAI TO NEUTER ELECTED PEOPLE'S ABILITY TO PUT THINGS RIGHT, Canada: Suspicions that politicians would have little power over MAI bureaucrats are borne out by evidence from the Canadian court challenge. Check it out on http://news.flora.org/flora.mai-not/5516
TAXPAYERS TO GUARANTEE MULTINATIONALS: The Australian Federal Parliament
has helped to establish an international fund to guarantee, that is, to
use taxpayers' funds to pay, multinational investors who suffer losses
arising from civil war, currency transfer restrictions, a government takeover,
or breach of contract by a government. This agreement binds for three years.
This is in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Act, No. 126, 1997. To view Australia's MIGA Act in full (for those with Acrobat Reader), go to the Parliamentary search page http://www.aph.gov.au/simpsrch.asp and type "Titles beginning with M" (must be in quotes). Then click on Bills Starting with M and scroll down until the Multilateral . . . item appears.
DEVASTATING IMPACT OF BIG CORPORATIONS ON PEOPLE AND THE EARTH: Al Anderson,
of USA, in his MAI Page, writes: "Worldwide, the super-rich and their multinational
corporate empires are inflicting a devastating impact on the rest of the
earth's residents, and on their environment. So, while an elite few live
in luxury, increasing millions are either homeless in their 'home' countries
or unwanted refugees in foreign countries, often under life-threatening
conditions." See his arguments in A Critique of the MAI at http://www.efn.org/~andersen/paine.html
And see A MAI-Day Alert Why is Globalization Bad? MAI, Part 2 How To Make Globalization Work -- MAI, Part 3
AUSTRALIAN INTERIM REPORT QUESTIONS MAI: The Australian Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) has had some harsh things to say about the push to drag Australia into the MAI. The committee's interim report appears at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committe/jsct/Reports.htm , but unforunately it is in pdf format ( which requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader, best loaded from a CD-ROM).
ALTERNATIVE TO MAI: Much of what a group of Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) would like to achieve on an alternative to the MAI was proposed in Brazil, May 1977, in reaction to a proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), for instance: There should be no FTAA agreement if it to be created along the lines of other existing agreements such as NAFTA [North America Free Trade Area]. We need an agreement that promotes genuine development for all of the peoples of the hemisphere, . . . see it all at: http://www.igc.apc.org/dgap/beloeng.html
MAI A DANGER TO THE CITIZENRY wrote Mary Lehman in the Winter 1998 issue of a United Kingdom political magazine. She wrote: "A profoundly-influential trade agreement is quietly in the making called Multilateral Agreement on Investment (M-A-I), which will be presented to governments this Spring. It gives corporations the right to sue governments for maintaining laws to protect the health, jobs and environment of the citizenry when the corporation finds these protections detrimental to its profitable investment and trade. There is no reciprocal power of governments to sue corporations. Decisions will be made by a non-elected tribunal and all provisions will be binding for 20 years without appeal. ... [It] sounds unreal and scary, but is quite real evidence that has been building up for decades, that global financial interests can literally dictate the terms they like to our deeply debt-ridden governments. ... Pressure to control a nation's resources through the M-A-I will intensify." -- Mary Lehman, article "The Landshare," Land & Liberty, Winter 1998, page 12 (Address: 177 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 1EU, Tel. 0171 834 4266, Fax 0170 834 4979, E-mail HGF_IGU@compuserve.com)
JOONDALUP TALKS ON MAI, Tuesday 4 August. "Talks on investment impact"
-- A FREE public meeting on the impact of the multilateral agreement on
investment will be held in Joondalup on Tuesday, August 4 at 7.30pm.
Speakers include Greens Senator Dee Margetts, WA Farmers' Federation president Kevin McMenemy, and Trades and Labour Council of WA secretary Tony Cooke.
Verity James [intended to] chair the meeting at Arena Joondalup, Kennedya Way, off Joondalup Drive.
Details on 9470 9227 -- Wanneroo Times, July 28 - August 3, 1998, p 2
MULTINATIONAL BEATS CANADA OVER CONTROVERSIAL FUEL ADDITIVE: Using a
MAI-like Treaty, Ethyl Corp's had a victory over the Canadian Government,
empowered by the North American Free Trade Area treaty(NAFTA), and cost
the taxpayers $10m:
"Additive fears lack clout
"The Liberal government is beating an embarrassing retreat on its year-old ban of the gasoline additive MMT, despite new evidence that the manganese used in the octane enhancer can cause nervous-system problems.
"Sources say government officials have reached a tentative deal with MMT-maker Ethyl Corp., of Richmond, Va., to avoid a potentially devastating legal challenge under the North American free-trade agreement. Federal lawyers had warned the Liberal cabinet that Ethyl would be likely to win that NAFTA case, a ruling that could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and hand a potent weapon to critics of the free-trade pact.
"Sources said the negotiators for the two sides have agreed that Ottawa would drop its ban on MMT and pay the company an estimated $10-million for legal costs and lost profits. The government will also issue a statement to the effect that the manganese-based additive is neither an environmental nor a health risk. In return, Ethyl would drop its NAFTA challenge and its claim for $250-million (U.S.) in damages. However, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien must still approve the agreement.
"The Liberal government legislated the ban on the cross-border sale of MMT last year, claiming the substance interferes with automobile emission controls and is therefore an environmental hazard. The legislation prohibited the importation or interprovincial sale of the additive.
"The acrimonious debate pitted Ethyl and gasoline refiners, who wanted access to the inexpensive additive, against environmentalists and auto makers, who insisted the use of the substance ran counter to the goal of lower emissions." -- Globe and Mail, July 20, 1998, Report on Business
See also another July 20 1998 article at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/docs/news/19980720/GlobeFront/ummttn.html References can be found at: http://news.flora.org/flora.mai-not/5979 (Mai-not articles), and http://news.flora.org/flora.mai-not/5980 There is another report on Ethyl's site: http://www.ethyl.com/news/7-20-98.html A July 24 background report, discussing the car manufacturers' problem for emission control systems, the scientific research, and the Canadian government's dilemma with these conflicting interests and the overriding power of NAFTA , is at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/docs/news/19980724/ColumnOne/coluy.html
ECONOMIST SEES MAI AS MOVE TO STIFLE PROPERTY TAXING POWER: Mason Gaffney,
Professor, Department of Economics, University of California, in an e-mail
to Georgist Education Association Inc., Western Australia, on 17 July 1998,
"MAI is one of a continuing series of moves by members of the international comity of rentiers to stifle the power of governments to tax property. There have been others, and there will be more. These same groups seek to penalize nations and/or localities that do NOT tax sales, value-added, etc., e.g. by excluding them from the Euro bloc."
His publications include: *"Capital Requirements for Economic Growth," Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, U.S. Economic Growth from 1976 to 1986: Prospects, Problems and Patterns, Vol. 8, pp. 56-75. *"Land as a Distinctive Factor of Production," in Nicolaus Tideman (ed.), A Land Taxation, London: Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd., pp. 38-102 (about 1/3 of the book), 1994. *"Land Reform through Tax Reform," in Riel Franzsen and Christof Heyns (eds.), A Land Tax for the New South Africa? Pretoria: The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, pp. 111-26, 1993.
Address: University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA, Office: (909) 787-5037 x1574, Fax: (909) 787-5685. WWW: http://www.ucr.edu/CHSS/depts/econ/mg.htm
TREATIES COMMITTEE IS TOLD MAI RESERVATIONS USELESS: The Australian
Federal Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) on 16
July took evidence about the MAI in Melbourne. One of the witnesses was
Ted Murphy (Australian Council of Trade Unions = ACTU) who attended one
of the Perth committee meetings of the Stop-MAI Coaltion of WA. He strongly
rebutted the Treasury fiction that reservations (exceptions) are of any
value in protecting against future shortcomings of the MAI. Others represented
the National Civic Council, Community Aid Abroad and the Business Council
The Hansard report of the Melbourne JSCT public hearing on the MAI (16 July) is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/joint/commttee/j1918.pdf, but one needs Acrobat Reader and much patience to view it. If you can't get it to display, you can at least check the hearings on MAI and other Treaties at: http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/joint/commttee/j-treat.htm
Hearings had been planned for 24 July 1998, Brisbane; 14 August, Canberra; 21 August, Sydney.
JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE closed down with the calling of the Australian Federal elections to be held on 3 October 1998. The JSCT hopes to be re-instituted when the new Parliament meets.
MAI TREATY Webpage: See: http://www.compuassist.net/mai.html
MAI HAS NO PROTECTION FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND ENVIRONMENT: John McMurtry professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph [Canada], writes: "Historically, international laws governing the community of nations have included provisions for the prevention of crimes against humanity, for protecting and enhancing labour and civil rights, and for protecting the environment. There is no recognition or inclusion of any of these international laws in the MAI or transnational trade agreements, with the sole exception of Article 104 of NAFTA. This article simply concedes that international protocols on the ozone layer and trans-boundary pollution can be complied with by signatory countries without exposing them to trade sanctions. (Even this exception, however, is not heeded, and violations are condoned as "necessary for profitable trade and competitiveness.)" -- from his article "The end of Democracy: The MAI, if adopted, will make corporate rule absolute" at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/articles/article107t.html
MAI NOT DEAD (1) -- NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE, ENVIRONMENT AGENCY NOT PRE-NOTIFIED:
"After months of requesting, the U.S. State Department finally briefed
the Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) on MAI here in Washington DC on
July 15. At this briefing, it became clear that despite the MAI Boosters'
spin that the MAI is dead, negotiations are indeed happening on a bilateral
level. The US negotiators (Joe Papovich - United States Trade Representatives,
USTR, and Alan Larson, State Department) also played an interesting strategic
card, threatening us that if they are unable to finish MAI negotiations
at the OECD in the next six to nine months, the US will support moving
it to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) -- 'we'll do the investment deregulation
agenda elsewhere --- we'll take it to WTO, FTAA, etc....'
"Although Mr Papovich downplayed the significance of this meeting, we learned from government sources that on Friday before the meeting the USTR had asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to sign off on some talking points on the MAI and the environment for use at this meeting. The EPA refused to sign off on the documents since 1) they hadn't seen them and 2) they were angry about not having been notified about the meeting between the negotiators ..." -- From a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), off the Internet 06 August 1998
FRENCH SAY CURRENT MAI CONCEPTION NO GOOD AS BASIS FOR TREATY
12:06 p.m. Oct 14, 1998 Eastern
PARIS, Oct 14 (Reuters) - France will not participate in the next round of talks on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) within the OECD, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said on Wednesday.
He told parliament during question time that the MAI, as it was currently conceived, could not serve as the basis for an agreement. The announcement deals a heavy blow to hopes that the treaty, aimed at liberalising international investment, would survive a six-month suspension of talks after it became clear in February a broad agreement was out of reach. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has worked hard to keep the momentum going since talks stalled. ... . Copyright © 1998 Reuters Limited.
Another report is at: http://news.flora.org/flora.mai-not/7350
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