Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
June / July 1998

 

The MAI: Don't Miss This - It Won't Miss You!
by Jan Holt, Population Committee Chair, Weminuche Group

Anyone worried about US Big Government or UN One World Government, should instead be following International Money,- in the form of NAFTA, GATT, WTO, OECD, and, especially now, the MAI. Do you what these acronyms stand for? Hint: they are trade treaties whose complexity and legal language seem purposely designed to confuse and bore an unwitting public. But, leaked negotiations on the MAI reveal that transnational corporations and wealthy foreign investors will profit enormously from the treaty they have written, pushed and control. The environment and people will not! A brief explanation of terms follows.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and its global big brother, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), were designed to eliminate trade barriers between countries. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established to enforce GATT. Members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), using the NAFTA as a model, are finishing up the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI).

Created by the wealthiest countries, the MAI would give foreign investors and corporations broad rights to invest or expand how and where they wished, with power over, but few responsibilities to individuals, businesses, communities, or other countries. Treaties are empowered by unelected bureaucrats and enforced in secret negotiations by an unaccountable, international tribunal. Of all the treaties, it is the MAI that most threatens our democracy and sovereignty, by pushing for one set of global investment rules. Treaty supporters, as was the case for NAFTA, have a lot at stake, so their financial contributions to political campaigns are gaining them access and influence. National sovereignty isn't being taken away by the UN or Big Government, but it might be given away or sold to transnationals and foreign investors by some of our own folks in Washington.

If Congress does ratify the MAI, treaty rulings under NAFTA and GATT provide a glimpse of our future. Aspects of our Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and other laws designed to protect our health and welfare, have been challenged by countries as trade barriers, and our laws have lost. US companies have made and won challenges against consumer laws of other countries.

Closer to home, Colorado may be in violation of MAI rules because of our state's economic development incentives and economic regulation. Our policies and programs concerning venture capital, company economic accountability, job creation, worker pay, recycling, alternative fuels, environmental technology, and restrictions on foreign ownership of state, public, agricultural, or ranch land, are threatened. Since the MAI regulations provide foreign investors rights that would override local ones, not only could governments sue each other over investment barriers, but investors could sue governments, including Colorado.

What seems evident here is that a global economy and global rules are deemed of more importance than the diverse desires of the global population. Unfortunately, the MAI and its global rules will impact Americans for years to come. The ramifications are likely to be huge and some cannot be foreseen, but there is no quick and easy way out once the MAI is ratified. Clinton wants ratification of MAI by Congress soon, by singular legislation or as a rider on another bill. Since Senators Campbell and Allard will vote on this, we need to start asking them these questions:

Are Campbell and Allard willing to challenge its promoters, including Clinton, and educate us about this huge, confusing treaty? We need to know they will look out for our interests, not sell them, so let's ask (Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510).

For lots more info on how the MAI would affect you & the environment, contact the Sierra Club's Dan Seligman (202) 675-2387, danseligman@sierraclub.org, or peruse the Club's web site at www.sierraclub.org/trade/tindex.html. Other sources are Public Citizen's Chantell Taylor (202) 546-4996), ctaylor@citizen.org, and Friends of the Earth's Mark Vallianatos (202) 783-7400, MVALLI@aol.com. To view the MAI draft text: http://www.essential.org/monitor/mai/contents.html

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