Multilateral Agreement on Investment

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This Page Last Updated Wednesday, December 20, 2000

We had a potential nightmare in the form of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). An almost unheard of agreement that was being discussed about investment rights and opening up nations for freer trade.

However many, many people feared that this would be accompanied by grave social and environmental consequences, due to the wording of the MAI text. Due to the provisions in the text there would be a real transfer of decision-making power to unaccountable private corporations, making it more difficult for elected governments to pass and apply laws for their public's interest, with the effect of reducing democracy so that people are locked in to corporate-rights agreements (all under the banner of "Free Trade!!").

MAI pushed back thanks to public protests -- for now

In April 1998, the good news was that the deadline for the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries to sign the agreement had been pushed back, with other countries to sign it later. October 20, 1998 has also seen a further setback to the MAI with the OECD members unable to agree on a future for this controversial trade pact and pushed back negotiations once more. This had been a significant achievement as it seems that hundreds of grassroots organizations, worldwide, objected to the MAI in its present form and with the help of the Internet, were able to create a substantial and global wave of protests on the real effects of the MAI.

There were also fears that the MAI could be moved from the domain of the OECD to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which would have more clout over the issue. In fact, some campaigners are saying that it would be better if the MAI negotiations came under the UNCTAD (United Nation's Conference on Trade and Development), which would be a fairer moderating organization.

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More Information

As well as the links above, the following provide some core information regarding the Multilateral Agreement on Investment:

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Author and Page Information

  • by Anup Shah
  • Created: Wednesday, October 21, 1998
  • Last Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2000

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