MAI Can Run But It Can’t Hide; New MAI Negotiations Slated for July at OECD

Switching Venues "Shell Game" Won?t Stop Congress, Citizens from Stopping Dangerous New Investment Treaty

Statement By Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Next week in Paris, the same folks who cooked up NAFTA and the WTO had hoped to sign the MAI — the Multilateral Agreement on Investment — the most audacious globalization power grab yet.

Because the MAI negotiations at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have not stood up well to scrutiny, it looks like the signing is off, but further negotiations to wrap up the deal are already set for July.

At the same time, MAI boosters are shifting into new fora where the MAI agenda could dodge public scrutiny and move forward. The MAI, like a political Dracula, does not fare well in sunshine.

It?s a shell game. The challenge is to figure out under which shells the rotten MAI pea is hiding.

Next week at the MAI Ministerial negotiators will decide whether to lock down the 90 percent of the MAI text that is agreed to, set a specific new negotiating deadline, and/or move the MAI talks to another venue, like the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Already, negotiators have moved some of the worst pieces of the MAI into other venues. Just last week — over strenuous congressional objections and promises from the Treasury to the contrary — the International Monetary Fund declared it would expand its charter to mandate that body to force countries to gut their investment and currency trading safeguards.

No matter where this rotten MAI agenda goes, we?re going to follow it and kill it with the disinfecting sunlight of public scrutiny. Global investment rules are needed — but not these rules written by the largest multinational corporations. We need global investment rules that help root capital in communities with some democratic accountability and the right for our governments to ensure that investment benefits the public interest, not just the special interests.