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"New" MAI Text Ignores Citizen Concerns

Statement By Lori Wallach Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch on the OECD’s "New" MAI Text Paris

April 27, 1998

The "new" MAI text put forward by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) fails to address the concerns of citizen groups from around the world. The OECD is trying to quiet raucous citizen opposition by touting a "new" text which is supposed to deal with concerns about the environment, sovereignty and corporate power.

Unfortunately, this supposedly "new" text only incorporates old, rejected language based on GATT/WTO exceptions and non-binding NAFTA recommendations. The one significant change is that the new language on expropriations actually goes even further than the previous text.

Earlier this year, more than 600 non-governmental organizations issued a joint statement containing specific substantive and procedural recommendations for the OECD MAI negotiations. These recommendations have been flatly ignored.

Not surprisingly, OECD negotiators have excluded the more than 30 non-governmental organizations from the official events. Regardless of the OECD’s exclusion of citizens’ groups and their concerns from the MAI negotiation process, we will continue to expose the MAI to the disinfecting sunlight of public scrutiny. The MAI, like a political Dracula, does not fare well in sunshine.

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.

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