A MAI-Day Alert Part 1
This May, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, a business treaty being negotiated by the richer nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), will be presented to the rest of the world's nations to sign, with little chance for amendments or additions. The MAI will be a blow against the environment and against the world's poor. It will give near-total freedom to foreign investors, effectively reducing the rights of host nations.
Under MAI, participating nations must:
Open all economic sectors, including real estate, broadcasting, and natural resources, to foreign ownership Advocates argue that the MAI is needed to protect international investors against discrimination and expropriation and will open new markets to investment. Many others, however, contend that it will encourage nations -- to an even greater degree than at present -- to compete for investors by lowering wages and environmental safeguards. It will also allow investors to challenge safety and other regulations that might inconvenience the unrestricted flow of capital. Critics see as particularly serious the likelihood that even more money will flow out of poorer countries, whereas, at present, they may restrict the amount investors can withdraw. For this and other reasons, the national debts of our world's poorest countries are sure to rise under the agreement.
Remove requirements on investor behavior to merit market access
Compensate investors in full for assets expropriated by "unreasonable" regulation or by seizure
Treat foreign investors as favorably as domestic ones
Allow investors to sue governments in any dispute resolution
Ensure that all levels of government comply with the MAI