From: Orlando Books <firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: MAI is moving !
CHANGE OF ADDRESS: MAI IS MOVING!
THE MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) IS NOT DEAD! IT IS
MOVING AND WE NEED TO FOLLOW.
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS MESSAGE WIDELY!!!
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE OECD (OCT. 20)?
The OECD's (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) two
day formal negotiating group meeting was restricted to a one day
informal affair which unfortunately (fortunately for us!) produced no
helpful, defining answers as to what should be done with the MAI.
According to Maude Barlow, Canadian journalists left the OECD press
conference at the end of the day frustrated at the ambiguity and
non-answers they were given. The OECD is in a muddle! Donald Johnston
stated that the French government's withdrawal from negotiations is
something the European Union should 'handle'. This indicates that
there will most likely be political pressure placed on France to get
back in line. The negotiating group will meet again in 3 months time
(December, 1998) in Paris to continue discussion.
It is interesting to note that at the last OECD meeting in April, 1998,
each of the 29 member countries committed to consult with their own
citizens about the MAI. Many did nothing and a few (like Canada) went
through a cursory consultation process more like a PR campaign. The
French government was the only one that engaged in consultations in any
depth, so it's no surprise that they withdrew from negotiations! Most
citizens oppose the agreement when they understand the clauses and
implications of the MAI.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE MAI?
* The MAI is NOT dead yet! It will be transferred over to the
World Trade Organization next fall, 1999 (though probably under a
different name). There are plans already being laid within the OECD for
this transference to happen. This transference will require the WTO to
add investment regulations to its millennium agenda. Although the WTO
is not a usual forum for trade issues, it is really the only existing
international body through which multinational regulations for trade and
investment can be passed.
* There is still going to be a push to get as much agreement as
possible on the MAI through the OECD. The US particularly is advocating
this as they believe it will be easier to gain agreement through the
OECD than the WTO (which has a membership of ~129 organizations rather
than a select 29)
TRACKING THE MAI
Major benchmarks to watch for in the foreseeable future of the MAI:
* December, 1998- OECD Negotiating Group Meeting (Paris, France):
Negotiating group meeting again in Paris to discuss how to move the MAI
to the WTO.
* April, 1999- OECD Ministerial Meeting (Paris, France): All
29-member countries meeting to generate as much enthusiasm as possible
about the MAI as they move it over to the WTO. An attempt to mask their
failure at ratifying the agreement.
* Fall, 1999- WTO Ministerial Meeting (Washington, DC): A big
rah-rah session for the WTO. Will discuss adding trade and investment
to their millennium round agenda, which means that the MAI is
resurrected at the WTO. Also Clinton's last year in office so the
success of the WTO meeting will be of major importance to the US
* Fall, 2000- WTO Ministerial Meeting- Millennium Round
(Washington, DC): Will be discussing the new MAI.
MAI AND BEYOND CAMPAIGN STRATEGY
* Building a new vision. Get involved in the "MAI Inquiry: A
Citizens' Search for Alternatives". The MAI Inquiry process is designed
to solicit input from across the country about alternatives to the MAI
and for a new global vision. The Inquiry interim report will be
released this winter and the final report next spring, 1999. The final
report from the Inquiry process will be presented to governments and
political parties at all levels, sent to all inquiry participants and
form the key Canadian contribution to international processes of
drafting alternatives. Both the interim and final report will serve as
the basis for discussion and input from various sectors of Canadian and
international society. We are on our way to broadening our movement,
our campaign and our vision.
* Broadening the MAI Campaign. The MAI Inquiry will be the
launch-off point for a much broader campaign. MAI-like clauses allowing
for the transference of government powers to transnational corporations
are multiplying through other trade agreements (such as the Free Trade
Agreement of the Americas, Trans-Atlantic Economic Partnership, other
Bilateral Trade Agreements) and through other international financial
venues (such as the International Monetary Fund, Asian Pacific Economic
Cooperative and even the United Nations). It's time we made links
between these agreements and venues and that our strategies reflect this
broadened focus. As a nucleus for international organizations and
regulations, the World Trade Organization is an appropriate target for a
unified, broad campaign. The WTO is a reflection of global political
and financial interests giving us more space to launch a global
alternative movement and vision.
* Obstacles to overcome:
1. The media think that the MAI is a non-issue. Given this
perception and the fact the extent of corporate ownership of media in
Canada, it will be hard to get our message across.
2. It is harder building a new vision than merely being in
opposition. We will have to work hard and creatively to discuss,
provide input and draft a new alternative vision.
3. While focussing on the WTO, we have to keep up with advances of
MAI-like clauses in other trade agreements and through other venues.
4. We need to work harder now than ever to capture the hearts and
minds of Canadians. It was estimated that only ~25% of the Canadian
populace had even heard of the MAI. Building a broader campaign means
educating an even broader section of Canadian society.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
* Be part of the MAI Inquiry. Organize a local meeting/ workshop
on the MAI and economic globalization. Use the MAI Inquiry handbook to
discuss the issues as well as alternatives. Send us your input.
* Contact local media and elected politicians and let them know
that the MAI and the trend of corporate globalization it represents is
not dead. It is just moving. Send them updated information.
* Research and mobilize on a local issue that relates to corporate
globalization (eg. closure of a production plant owned by a
transnational corporation, opening of a business owned by a TNC
overshadowing local independent businesses, rolling back of
environmental, health or social service regulations in favour of
THE DIFFERENCE WE CAN MAKE
* It's easy to despair and think that we're not getting anywhere
compared to the overwhelming resources of transnational corporations.
And yet, in the one year since the MAI was leaked (March 1997), over 23
countrywide citizen's movements have developed opposing the MAI and
trade liberalization and started to develop alternatives. These
movements have formed in Southern, developing countries as well as
It's exciting that these movements are now starting to connect,
strategize and collectively develop alternatives, not to just to the
MAI, but to the larger scepter of economic globalization. There are
many ideas and approaches to developing alternatives and though there is
no doubt this is a much harder challenge than just being in opposition,
much stronger ties will be forged between nations and different sectors
of civil society.
CONTACT ME FOR MAI INQUIRY HANDBOOKS AND AN UPDATE KIT ON THE MAI
Anna Dashtgard, MAI Campaign Officer
Council of Canadians
Suite 502, 151 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3
Phone: 613-233-2773 Fax: 613-233-6776
Toll free: 1-800-387-7177
Orlando Books Jacqueline Dumas, Owner
10123 Whyte Avenue, Edmonton, Canada T6E 1Z5
(403) 432 - 7633 Fax (403) 437 4080
Rob, Sector Air Raid Warden at Rob's Place
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