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Information and Resource Kit


May 1998 - The MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT being negotiated since 1995 in Paris by the 29 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was to be ready for ratification in April 1998. As of 28 April 1998, that goal has been extended by the negotiators. The Agreement is intended to remove obstacles to international investment among its signatories by eliminating investor (corporate) performance requirements and discriminatory treatment of investors by host nations. It incorporates a powerful dispute resolution system which would allow any investor to sue the government of its host nation if it considers laws or regulations to be discriminatory and detrimental to immediate or projected profits. The Agreement would therefore disable regional development and national measures to protect the well-being of people, create employment, safeguard small business, conserve resources and protect the environment. Once signed, the MAI cannot be denounced for five years. Investments under the MAI would remain protected for a further fifteen years.

The parties negotiating the MAI represent corporate interests exclusively. Consequently the MAI is a matter of great concern to organizations dedicated to protecting democracy, human rights and the environment. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from around the world have united in opposition to the MAI and to the forces behind globalization which it epitomizes.

The draft text of the MAI was first released to the public in October 1997. In November 1997, the Canadian government held public hearings on the MAI in Ottawa before a Sub-committee of the Standing Committee on International Trade and Investment. The resulting Parliamentary report and recommendations, the May 1997 Draft Working Text of the MAI and Canada's Current Draft MAI Reservations are now available on the Parliamentary website / Internet Parliamentaire.

In February 1998 an international coalition of NGOs launched a massive campaign against the MAI. In late March, representatives of the OECD stated that the treaty had stalled but that there was "unanimous political will for it." There has since been mention of moving negotiations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and of incorporating the principles of the MAI in the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement now being negotiated.

It is essential that the MAI and similar negotiations be brought out from behind closed doors and into public debate so that public interest groups and citizens may make informed contributions to the decision-making process. The MAI Information and Resource Kit is intended to breach the secrecy surrounding the MAI and aid people in convincing their elected representatives that the MAI and other trade liberalization agreements must be brought to the people. It consists of background information on the MAI in the form of published articles; sample letters intended as guides for writing to your elected representatives and the media; and the names and mailing addresses of North American media and all Congress persons (U.S.) and Members of Parliament (Canada). Also included is a list of references available on the internet, a flyer and a petition suitable for printing and photocopying.

Essential reading is the overview by Michelle Sforza-Roderick, Scott Nova, and Mark Weisbrot for the Preamble Collaborative, and an analysis by Tony Clarke of the Polaris Institute. Also of special interest is a summary of trade lawyer Barry Appleton's notes on Canada's proposed reservations to the MAI. A recent campaign, based on the principles of accountability by Henry McCandless and driven by the OPIRG-Carleton MAI-Not! Project, can be found below as well.


What is the MAI?

The Issues

In More Depth

How to be Heard

Where to Write

Some Tools

E-mail comments to tucker@direct.ca

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