Multilateral Agreement on Investment

Author and Page information

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

We had a potential nightmare in the form of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment1 (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 transfer2 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 Trade3!!").

On this page:

  1. MAI pushed back thanks to public protests -- for now
  2. More Information

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 back4, 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 future5 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 Internet6, 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 moved7 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 UNCTAD8 (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:

  • This Report9 on the MAI gives lots of examples of the effects of the MAI coming into effect.
  • OneWorld's Guide to the MAI10.
  • The MAI-Not!11 campaign, based in Canada, is attempting to stop the agreement. They have lots of information on the subject.
  • Here are some interesting quotes12 from key people on the subject of the MAI.
  • This article13 from Noam Chomsky provides an excellent analysis into the issues surrounding the debate (or lack of) on the MAI.
  • CorpWatch14 have an extensive list of links15 to other web sites reagrding the MAI.
  • You can download the official MAI negotiation text and commentary from this link16.
  • Protecting War; Militarism and MAI17 from the Canadian based Peacewire18 shows how the MAI would have been beneficial to the arms trade and military industry.
  • From this web site:
    • The General Agreement on Trade in Services19 part of this section, which looks at the next version of the MAI.
    • The World Trade Organization20 part of this section

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Where next?

Related articles

  1. Global Financial Crisis
  2. A Primer on Neoliberalism
  3. Criticisms of Current Forms of Free Trade
  4. The WTO and Free Trade
  5. WTO Doha “Development” Trade Round Collapse, 2006
  6. Deregulation or Protectionism?
  7. Some Regional Free Trade Agreements
  8. The Mainstream Media and Free Trade
  9. Public Protests Around The World
  10. WTO Protests in Seattle, 1999

Online Sources:

(Note that listed here are only those hyperlinks to other articles from other web sites or elsewhere on this web site. Other sources such as journal, books and magazines, are mentioned above in the original text. Please also note that links to external sites are beyond my control. They might become unavailable temporarily or permanently since you read this, depending on the policies of those sites, which I cannot unfortunately do anything about.)

  1. http://www.oneworld.net/guides/MAI/
  2. http://www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/may97Chomsky.html
  3. http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/FreeTrade.asp
  4. http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/issues/trade/maidec98.htm
  5. http://www.oneworld.org/ips2/oct98/23_46_109.html
  6. http://www.oneworld.org/news/reports98/mai_defeat.html
  7. http://www.oneworld.org/ips2/oct98/09_28_028.html
  8. http://www.oneworld.org/ips2/oct98/03_40_008.html
  9. http://www.oneworld.org/chogm97/hys.htm
  10. http://www.oneworld.net/guides/MAI/
  11. http://mai.flora.org/
  12. http://www.oneworld.org/guides/MAI/MAI_quotes.htm
  13. http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/articles/z9805-domestic.html
  14. http://www.corpwatch.org
  15. http://www.corpwatch.org/trac/globalization/treaties/mailinks.html
  16. http://www.oecd.org/daf/cmis/mai/negtext.htm
  17. http://www.peacewire.org/campaigns/articles/armstrade/protecting.html
  18. http://www.peacewire.org
  19. http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/FreeTrade/GATS.asp
  20. http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/FreeTrade/WTO.asp

Author and Page Information

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

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