Secret Global Trade
Treaty Being Written
From SchNEWS, a britsh underground paper/e-document
The Museum of Humanity in Paris is a multicultural celebration of social, environmental and labour progression of several millennia. Inside the population clock ticks up three new births a second. It stands at approximately 5,901,884,000. Outside, a giant screen on the Eiffel Tower counts down the days to the millenimum: 791. But there is another date, May 1998, which is will affect each and every one on the planet far more.
Around the corner, behind the closed doors in a basement room of a bunker-like office building, representatives from the richest countries of the world are writing the "constitution of a single global economy" in secrecy and and in haste. The global impact of their work, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), is almost unimaginable. This agreement is for "the end of history", when the corporations will finally take over the world. The Museum of Humanity, a small notice says, is closing down.
The most important international agreement on investment and trade ever, the MAI, has been negotiated in secret in Paris since September 1995. It will legally bind the richest countries on Earth together for 20 years in a move that will invalidate all international and domestic law regarding environmental, social and labour rights. Countries will not be able to opt out once it is signed.
Multinationals will gain the right to sue national governments for even debating issues which may harm the profit of an investor regardless of domestic law. It will force governments to respond to economic pressures by abolishing worker protections, public safety regulations and measures protecting the environment. Silence on the MAI is deafening in the UK and worldwide.
Details of the plan were leaked and put on the Internet by French activists a year ago and the cause was taken up by global pressure groups. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which include the world's 29 wealthiest countries, meet every six weeks in Paris to plan the MAI. On Monday they allowed 50 people from pressure groups from all continents precisely six hours to listen to their concerns. SchNEWS (alone in the UK press) was there. The NGOs called the discussions "shocking" and "negative". Chairman of the negotiating group, Frans Engering, told SchNEWS after the `consultations' that there could not possibly be any delay in the passage of the MAI, and that "we are entering the last stages."
Globalisation has seen over the last 30 years, the richest 20% of the world's population increase their share of income from 70% to 85%, while the share captured by the poorest 20% has declined from 2.3% to 1.4%
A 600 page document of "reservations" of member countries is not publicly available, but Friends of the Earth received a leaked copy. It reveals that the UK is planning to sign without any reservations for the environmentally or socially-sensitive sectors of the economy. Tony Juniper, Campaigns Director of FOE, says "Labour's blinkered obsession with the free market appears to be absolute."
The real clout in the MAI is the right it gives companies to sue governments for large damages. In what is known as the `pay the polluter' case, the Ethyl Corporation of America is suing the Canadian government for $367 million dollars for banning the use of MMT, a controversial gasoline additive, which it makes in Ottawa. It wants "immediate compensation for imposing legislation which hinders its operations [profit]." under free trade rules identical to the MAI.
SchNEWS went to the OECD library to be told by the assistant: "I've never heard of MAI". There were no published documents available. "Their mania for secrecy is our best strategic clue, " says Chantell Taylor of the US-based Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, " it's time for the Dracula strategy because this is one treaty that could never survive sunshine."
MAI Words
"We are writing the constitution of a single global economy" - Renato Ruggerio, Director General of the World Trade Organisation
"The MAI, if enacted, will allow corporations - the pinnacle of debauched economic power - to run riot over the face of the Earth, with greater political right than any sovereign nation." - Corporate Watch, UK
"We will oppose any and all measures to create or even imply binding obligations for governments or business related to environment or labour." - Abraham Katz, President of the USCIB (United States Council for International Business)
"MAI is the final consummation of collective colonialism ... the erosion of national sovereignty would be total" - Prof Nanjundaswamy, President of the Karnataka State Farmersí Association, a 10-million peasants' movement in India
"The MAI challenges the right of a nation to determine its own economic, social and ethical development" - Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Director of the Just World Trust
On 23-25 Feb 1998, 600 representatives from the People's Global Action against Free Trade and the WTO will meet in Geneva for the first conference of a new world-wide co-ordination of resistance against the global market and the MAI. Details: PlayFair Europe!, Turmstr. 3,52072 Aaachen, Germany. Tel +49 241 803792
* UK ACTION COMING SOON! Contact: Corporate Watch Box E 111 Magdelen Rd Oxford OX4 1RQ tel: 01865 791391. Email:
* INFO: World Development Movement 25 Beehive Pl London SW9 7QR Tel: 0171 737 6215
* also see:

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