The Rise And Fall Of The Multilateral Agreement On Investment Where Now

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Today, any nation that wants to respond to public demands to address widespread economic and social problems must do so in a context of massive international investment flows and increasingly uprooted groups of capital and capital. Investment issues have attracted significantly less public, press and policy attention than trade flows. However, many multinationals, including major financial interests, have focused on investment issues. They have been tacitly but aggressively following global investment rules to meet their narrow interests. Despite the complete lack of public awareness, negotiations for the introduction of comprehensive investment rules under the MAI were scheduled for May 1997 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD is a Paris-based invitation secretariat of 29 member countries, including all the world`s richest nations. In April 1997, the deadline for the completion of the giant contract, but unknown to the public, was extended by at least six months. To underline the importance of this MAI proposal, he is of the view that there are no such private rights against governments for international application procedures within the powerful and large-scale World Trade Organization, created by the Uruguayan GATT cycle. The WTO secretariat, 50 years of GATT`s history and a large majority of WTO members, strongly support the principle that only national governments should have rights over international agreements. The beginning of opposition to the MAI can be attributed to a few individuals who remained leaders in its subsequent development. Until the end of 1996, Martin Khor, director of the network of the third world network based in Malaysia, received a document prepared for the OECD ministerial meeting in May 1995 as well as for the future negotiations of the European Commission at the WTO (European Communities Commission, 1995: A Level Playing Field for Direct Investment World Wide, 1 March, Brussels).

The document shows that Mr Khor understood that multilateral investment negotiations, that his organisation could be part of a grand coalition that opposed the WTO, could be under way within the OECD. He briefed some NGO colleagues, including Tony Clarke, director of the Polaris Institute in Canada.

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