MAI NEWS (2) -- MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT (MAI)

MAI News. The Multilateral Treaty on Investment (MAI) would lead to increased foreign investment in Australian land, thus leading to another part of the population feeling alienated like the indigenous Australians. ... MAI represents the globalisation of economic rationalism, ... MAI would ... confer benefits, but only to a diminishing percentage of people, like the minority of Australians who are benefitting from the economic rationalism which governments have been imposing upon us, accompanied as it has been by the promotion of private greed and the dismantling of the institutions and symbols of collective responsibility and community cohesion. ... [under present conditions] increased foreign investment in Australian land will only add a new dimension to the reconciliation debate: An increasing number of non-indigenous Australians will become aligned with indigenous Australians in resenting the alienation of their birthright. -- Phil Day, town planner, Queensland. Various news about MAI

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This is a continuation of a collection of Newsitems and Resources about the MAI.

The Multilateral Treaty on Investment (MAI) would lead to increased foreign investment in Australian land, thus leading to another part of the population feeling alienated like the indigenous Australians. MAI represents the globalisation of economic rationalism.

MAI would confer benefits, but only to a diminishing percentage of people, like the minority of Australians who are benefitting from the economic rationalism which governments have been imposing upon us, accompanied as it has been by the promotion of private greed and the dismantling of the institutions and symbols of collective responsibility and community cohesion.

Under present conditions, increased foreign investment in Australian land will only add a new dimension to the reconciliation debate: An increasing number of non-indigenous Australians will become aligned with indigenous Australians in resenting the alienation of their birthright.

Evidence has been building up for decades that global financial interests can literally dictate the terms they like to our deeply debt-ridden governments.

Many Multinational Corporations (= Transnational Corporations = TNCs) use Transfer Pricing, Financial Instruments, Tax Havens, Charitable Trusts, Family Trusts, Sovereign Trusts, and other unethical methods of avoiding Company and other Taxation, then use the surplus funds to outbid and outsell competitors, thus gaining both windfall profits, regular "super profits," and effective access to the political leaders, according to some critics of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI).

Links are also listed on this Website to find ethical multinational corporations.

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE CLOSED: Australia's federal parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT), which had been created as one of the Coalition Government's kept promises, closed down with the early calling of the Australian Federal elections to be held on 3 October 1998. The JSCT hopes to be re-instituted when the new Parliament meets.

TOWN PLANNER SEES MAI UNDER PRESENT SYSTEM AS LEADING TO CENTRALISM, TAKEOVER, ALIENATION: Philip Day, town planner, of Brisbane wrote in April 1998 that the MAI would lead to increased foreign investment in Australian land, thus leading to another part of the population feeling alienated like the indigenous Australians. "... MAI represents the globalisation of economic rationalism, and in an ideal world, willing and able to employ all the people it continues to breed, it could make sense.   But this is not an ideal world. MAI would indeed confer benefits, but only to a diminishing percentage of people, like the minority of Australians who are benefitting from the economic rationalism which governments have been imposing upon us, accompanied as it has been by the promotion of private greed and the dismantling of the institutions and symbols of collective responsibility and community cohesion.   I would have no problem with foreign investment in and exclusive possession of Australian land and other natural resources if their ultimate ownership were vested in the Australian community and if the community captured their annually-assessed rental value from all who used or possessed them.   Until this happens and the unearned land value increments are distinguished from legitimate profits from developments on land, increased foreign investment in Australian land will only add a new dimension to the reconciliation debate: An increasing number of non-indigenous Australians will become aligned with indigenous Australians in resenting the alienation of their birthright."

WOMEN, ENVIRONMENT MAY LOSE IF INTERNATIONAL TRADE TREATY IS RATIFIED -- Multinational Agreement on Investment Creates Potential for Sweatshops, by Hannah Meils, in Feminist Majority Report, Fall [Northern Autumn] 1997; Arlington, VA, USA.: "The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) creates the potential for increased sweatshop conditions, environmental degradation, and further impoverishment for women globally, because it would limit the ability of governments to regulate foreign investment. ... The OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] refuses to directly address the issues of sweatshops and human rights violations. Even worse, the MAI would give individual investors and corporations the unprecedented ability to sue a government if they felt that government was violating the MAI by, for example, requiring the company to obey wage or environmental laws. If the country is found in violation of the MAI it would be subject to a monetary fine." Read it all at: http://www.feminist.org/research/report/93_thirteen.html

HIGH TAXATION BACKED BY FINANCIER ON OR BEFORE 1936: "While a few years ago no one would have believed it possible that a scale of taxation such as that at present existing could be imposed upon the British public without revolution, I have every hope that with skilful education and propaganda this scale can be considerably raised." -- Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England, quoted in 1936.

MAI CAN'T PASS THE "DRACULA TEST" -- IT CAN'T STAND THE LIGHT OF DAY: In Sierra magazine, JulyAugust 1998, p 17, Paul Rauber in an article "All Hail the Multinationals!" writes, "As Lori Wallach of Public Citizen says, our advantage is that there's no way the MAI can pass the 'Dracula test' -- it can't stand the light of day." He also writes that MAI would threaten the State laws of Oregon and Idaho forbidding the export of raw logs, and laws in the United States of America mandating that manufacturers use certain percentages of recycled material. "The MAI would also spell an end to boycotts and trades sanctions against countries or businesses violating environmental, labor, and human-rights standards." So Massachusetts' ban on buying from firms trading with Burma [Myanmar], and Marylands' proposed restrictions on trade with Nigeria would be forbidden. And if a government planned privatising the water supply, a bidder could not be excluded just because it's from Latvia or Malaysia. The article offers a MAI action kit "Don't Trade Away Our Environment" if one e-mails Dan Seligman. Consider subscribing to the magazine, exploring the on-line links at www.sierraclub.org/trade and reading the WWW version at: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/199807/LOL1.html

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STOP-MAI ACTION FOR SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 1998
Australia's national Stop MAI co-ordinating team will soon be suggesting a programme of vigorous anti-MAI actions between now and the end of October. They hope that people alert to the MAI's danger are ready to send letters to the editor, phone calls to open-line shows, faxes to politicians, etc.
Action plans in the United States of America:
MAI WEEK OF ACTION OCTOBER 3-10!
The MAI negotiations were postponed in April partly because of internal differences between the OECD countries, but also because of all the hard work and constant opposition to the MAI from activists in the U.S. and around the world. Since then, the MAI Boosters have been trying to convince us that the MAI is dead, while at the same time engaging in intense bilateral negotiations trying to sort out their differences. Their tactics have been a failure -- we have kept up and built more opposition to the MAI both here and abroad. The MAI can't survive the light of public scrutiny. Let's redouble our efforts and send a clear message to the negotiators that the MAI must be buried!
NEXT ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS: OCTOBER 20-21
NOW IS THE TIME TO KILL THE MAI ONCE AND FOR ALL!
MAI WEEK OF ACTION OCTOBER 3-10
We won't give them a moment's rest. During this week there will be a flood of activities throughout the country and that's where YOU come in with your different events: Organize a rally....A teach-in....A meeting with your paper's editorial board...A debate on the MAI and globalization....Contact your city council member ask that they introduce a resolution against the MAI...Write your Senators and your Member of Congress...Do street theater...Hand out information about the MAI....
NATIONAL ALL-CALL DAY OCTOBER 7TH: It's time to telephone the ones responsible for negotiating the MAI. Tell them to withdraw from the negotiations since the MAI grants corporations unprecedented power over nations and citizens..
MADELINE ALBRIGHT (State Department): 202-736-4247
CHARLENE BARSHEFSKY (United States Trade Representative): 202-395-6890
JOHN PODESTA (White House): 202-456-1414

MAI NOT DEAD (2): NEWS from NO to MAI JAPAN CAMPAIGN (17/9/1998): The Japanese Government hosted a "briefing" on the MAI, September 2, 1998. Since the announcement came quite late (Aug.17) and the deadline for the mailed applications was only 9 days after the announcement which appeared on a badly arranged MOFA web site, it was only attended by about 20 NGOs, 10 industry representatives, a few researchers and an OECD Tokyo office representative. This looks like another "consultation" with the citizens and stakeholders!!
Just before the Japanese parliamental election of July 12 1998 the anti-MAI campaigners sent out questionnaires on the MAI to the Upper House candidates for eight core political parties. Except for Komei, the campaingers received full answers from each party and they were released to the press.
The campaigners will hold conferences in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagano city during the first week of November 1998.
Tomoko Sakuma People's Forum 2001, Japan, Maruko-bld. 3F 1-20-6 Higashi-ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0015 Japan. TEL +81-3-3834-2436, FAX +81-3-3834-2406. Email : tsakuma@jca.ax.apc.org or pf2001jp@jca.ax.apc.org Website: http://pf2001jp.vcom.or.jp/ (in Japanese).
For details in English, contact Margrete Strand Rangnes, MAI Project Coordinator, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, 215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003, USA, mstrand@citizen.org, Tel. 202-546 4996, ext. 306; Fax 202-547 7392

MAI NOT DEAD (3): "CONSULTATIONS" TRICK IN EUROPE, LIKE U.S.A. and JAPAN: 18 September 1998. It seems that the MAI negotiators in Europe are (1) determined to press on, (2) trying to overcome (or override) civil-society objections and (3) to that end, are organising little token consultations with NGOs which can form part of the record. Australian negotiators will probably rely on the past consultation afforded by the federal parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT). I think that we need to stress the point that the JSCT was an inadequate forum and was cut off in its prime by an election. The Government clearly needs to legislate for a more satisfactory avenue of consultation on treaties. We can take heart from the no-nonsense way in which our UK colleagues are tackling this. For fuller details including agenda and papers contact: Barry.Coates@wdm.org.uk

TRADES AND LABOUR COUNCIL FORUM ON MAI, 23 OCT: The Western Australian Trades and Labor Council international affairs committee has organised a forum on the MAI and Globalisation on Friday 23rd October 1998. Nixon Apple, who is the national economics adviser for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, has been invited to speak at the forum. Further information: Stephanie Thompson, Executive Officer, Murdoch University Academic Staff Association (MUASA/NTEU) Branch, Transportable 1, Room 8, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA, 6150. Tel: (08) 9360 2922. Or e-mail: Teresa Borwick, Industrial Officer, http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/nteu/ , (08) 9360 2717, (08) 9380 1548. (MUASA is the Murdoch University Academic Staff Association, part of NTEU, the National Tertiary Education Union.)

MAI NOT DEAD (4): JULY AND AUGUST TALKS BETWEEN AUSTRALIA IN NEW ZEALAND: MEDIA RELEASE from Stop MAI Coalition (WA), by Brian Jenkins, 22 September, 1998
MAI treaty negotiations continue in secret
A question in the New Zealand Parliament has lifted the lid on previously undisclosed negotiations involving Australia, aimed at concluding the OECD's controversial MAI treaty.
Reporter Cathie Birch wrote in the Wellington Dominion, 21 September: "Government officials have resumed talks about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment three months after the Cabinet issued instructions for a 'pause' in negotiations.
"Treasurer and Finance Minister Bill Birch said in response to a written parliamentary question from Alliance leader Jim Anderton that the first meeting with other countries' officials about the agreement had been held in Wellington at the end of July.
"Officials from the Treasury and Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry had talked about the agreement with a Canadian foreign affairs and international trade department official when he was in Wellington for air services negotiations, because the official was also Canada's chief negotiator on the agreement, he said.
"Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry officials also took the opportunity of regular annual discussions with their Australian counterparts on multilateral trade issues to discuss Australia's views on the agreement at a meeting in Canberra on August 20.
"On the same day, the foreign affairs and trade ministry officials met with Australian Treasury officials to discuss Australian views on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment," Mr Birch said.
A spokesperson for the Stop MAI (WA) campaign coalition, Mr Brian Jenkins, said the October resumption of MAI talks in Paris was expected to lead to a further meeting in April with the aim of concluding the agreement before the World Trade Organisation started its next trade-liberalisation round. Stop MAI was continuing to lobby Australian parliamentarians and OECD negotiators, he said.

COMMUNITY RADIO RUNNING STOP-MAI SEGMENT 24 SEP 98: Radio 6RTR (where's that on the dial?) is running a Stop MAI special at 12.30 pm on Thursday 24 Sept, according to information received. If it can be taped, it could be played at the Stop-MAI Coalition meeting the same evening, at Lower Level, 10 Broome St. (off Douglas Ave), South Perth. Coffee from 5.30pm for meeting 6pm. Pro-democracy activists are already in the middle of an International Week of Action against the MAI Treaty, and there should be continuous protest action until and beyond 19-20 October when the OECD negotiators meet in Paris. We have some plans and need your help to progress them.

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