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E-M:/ MAI introduction



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Enviro-Mich message from Scott Heinzman <sheinzman@prodigy.net>
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The following is reprinted from the October 1997 edition of the E.D.E.N.
Calendar. Anyone interested in the Calendar should e-mail me personally.

-Scott


   The leaders of the largest industrialized nations are in the process
of putting together a new trade agreement called the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI).  It might as well be called the "screw
the little guy some more" agreement.  President Clinton wants to use the
fast-track method and ram this through quickly before any meaningful
analysis can happen.
    In fact, most members of Congress are barely aware of MAI so it
hasn't been studied.  But watchdog groups like Public Citizen, Clean
Water Action and the Alliance for Democracy (AfD) are well aware of this
treaty.  They find MAI to be bad news for everyone, but the
ultra-wealthy.
    Learning from NAFTA and GATT, transnational corporations have
refined their influence to the point where MAI will circumvent local
labor, safety and environmental laws to allow their capital to flow free
from pesky local regulation.  According to AdF, countries that sign MAI
will be required to:

1. Open all economic sectors, including real estate, broadcasting, and
natural resources, to foreign ownership;
2. Treat foreign investors (companies) no less favorably than domestic
firms;
3. Remove performance requirements, which are laws requiring investors
to behave in a certain way for market access;
4. Remove restrictions on movement of capital;
5. Compensate investors in full when their assets are appropriated,
either through seizure or "unreasonable" regulation.
6. Accept an international (possibly the World Trade Organization)
enforcement process allowing investors to sue governments for damages
when they are thought to violate MAI; and
7. Ensure that states and localities comply with MAI.  

    Just as an example, a multinational corporation headquartered in
Mexico builds a factory in the U.S.  Under the MAI, the corporation can
expect to operate their factory using Mexican pollution and safety
standards that are far less restrictive than those here.  Even worse,
said corporation can actually sue for potential lost revenues if local
government chooses to have the invader comply with local laws.
    MAI has been described as NAFTA on steroids.  NAFTA has proven to be
bad for the American people and the environment.  The slight trade
surplus with Mexico in 1993 is now a $16 billion deficit. Real wages
have dropped 4.1% since 1993.  There has been an increase of lower
paying service jobs and a decrease in better paying manufacturing sector
jobs.  Manufacturing jobs are moving to Mexican factories called
maquiladoras where labor, job safety, and environmental protections are
almost non-existant.  Under NAFTA, less than 1% of produce is
inspected.  That's how those hepetitus strawberries got through to
Michigan from Mexico.
    Despite the decline for America in general, the removal of so-called
trade barriers has been a boon for Wall Street where corporate stocks
have sky-rocketed to record highs the past few years.  The moral of our
story being the rich become richer and more powerful by being allowed to
exploit the common person.
    It's not that trade agreements are bad.  It's that trade agreements
like NAFTA and the MAI are being negotiated to benefit the big
investors, the multinational corporations, to the detriment of the
environment and the common person's standard of living.
    Trade agreements could be designed to protect labor, safety, and the
envirionment.  They could be progressive documents that encourage and
mandate responsible corporate behavior.
    A letter demanding several outcomes of the MAI was drafted by Dan
Seligman of the Sierra Club's trade campaign and AfD co-chair Ruth
Caplan.  It was signed by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Sierra Club
Executive Director Carl Pope, House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI)
and many others.  Among the demands was to "end negotiation of
undemocratic international trade and investment agreements, such as
expansion of NAFTA and MAI unless those pacts a) include enforceable
labor and environmental rights and standards in their core provisions,
b) guarantee the democratic right of national, state and local
governments to protect labor, the environment, public health and safety
as they see fit, and c) require multinational corporations based in G-8
countries to fully respect human, civil, labor and environmental rights
and standards in their worldwide operations."
    The negotiations on the MAI began secretly in 1995.  Details of this
transparent corporate subterfuge weren't leaked out until earlier this
year.  Since then, it's secret agenda has been exposed.  Readers are
strongly urged to contact their Congressional Representative and
Senators Abraham and Levin and ask them to reject the fast-track so that
MAI can be thoroughly studied.  Let them know any trade agreement that
undermines local protection of workers and the environment contradicts
the principles of democracy and is unacceptable.


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