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Lesson Plans

US Sign-On letter against the MAI

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Fri, 9 Oct 1998 00:48:12 EDT

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If you do not know about the MAI, you should.
The major media do NOT want you to know about it.
Please bear with the intro below, as the letter you are asked to sign does=
good job of clearly defining the problem.

Remember, it is not uncommon in history for peoples to =93legally=94 and e=
=93democratically=94 give away their rights. This is happening under our n=
You can now no longer say, =93I didn=92t know...=94

You know.

Paul Sheridan

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Subject: (mai) US Sign-On letter against the MAI
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For groups in the United States

** Sign- on letter against MAI: respond by Tuesday, Oct 13 **

Dear friends,

The MAI negotiating group meets October 21 and 22 after a 6 month hiatus.
Over the past year, NGOs have sent sign on letters to Barshefsky and
Albright, CC'd to other administration officials and members of Congress, a
week or so before important negotiating sessions, to influence the US
negotiating position. In the past these letters have been discussed in the
government's inter-agency meetings and had some effect according to the
people in the administration who share some of our concerns with the MAI.

It will be very useful to send a letter before Oct 20 because we need to
remind the government that we are paying attention after the 6 month "period
of assessment." The main focus of governments at the October negotiating
meeting will probably be to map out how to proceed with the MAI. They will
be on the defensive given the problems finishing the MAI in the past and the
current financial crises.

Below is a sign on letter calling on the US government to abandon MAI
negotiations and describing the kinds of alternative approaches to
investment regulation that citizens might favor. If your organization would
like to endorse the letter, please e-mail me : mvallianatos by the
end of the day on Tuesday, October 13.

mark vallianatos, friends of the earth


The Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

The Honorable Charlene Barshefsky United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20506

We are writing to you as representatives of a broad cross section of civil
society concerning the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). As the US
prepares for the resumption of formal negotiations on October 21, we remain
united in strong opposition to the MAI. Given the precarious state of the
world economy and the impacts of foreign investment on the daily lives of
people here and abroad, we wish to underscore that the MAI is the wrong
approach for regulating investment internationally. We would support rules
on investment that empower citizens, promote economic stability, and protect
the environment.

Measured against these values the MAI falls short. We hope that laying out a
rough outline of the kind of investment agreement the representatives of
civil society on this letter would favor will allow you to better understand
the depth of our opposition to the MAI. We also intend this letter as an
invitation for the administration to revamp US investment policy in a
pro-people, pro- environment direction fit for the 21st century.


We reiterate our opposition to the MAI as negotiated. Despite criticism and
engagement by citizens and members of Congress, the draft MAI retains the
basic flaws that have led to broad public opposition. Governments' proposed
environmental and labor amendments are in many cases cosmetic and do not
ensure that regulatory protections take precedence over investor rights. As
we work to defeat the MAI we will do so with the confidence that civil
society has tried to play a constructive role.

Developments over the last year have increased our concerns. The continuing
financial crises spreading worldwide show that liberalization is not a
sufficient basis for a sustainable, equitable economy. The world needs
sensible regulation of speculative investment which undercuts development as
well as oversight of burgeoning mergers and acquisitions that concentrate
corporate power. The MAI would instead increase excessive capital mobility
and narrow the possible actions governments can take to ward-off
destabilizing inflows and outflows of capital. The administration's actions
on the MAI will be an important test case: does the US government have its
head buried in the sand or will it heed the call of non-governmental
organizations, major newspapers and economists to rethink our approach to
economic globalization?

Further, the settlement of the NAFTA investment case of Ethyl Corporation
vs. the Government of Canada has confirmed our concerns over the
anti-democratic powers that the MAI would grant to corporate investors vis a
vis elected governments. The investor to state dispute resolution and
expropriation and compensation rules that Ethyl utilized are among the
provisions that must be eliminated from any investment agreement if it is to
win the support of civil society.


The time is right for the U.S. and other governments to abandon this flawed
model that brought us the MAI draft and begin the process of regulating
investment with full citizen participation. International rules governing
foreign investment should be based on people's economic, environmental and
social priorities. And multinational corporations and financial investors
should be held accountable to these citizen-defined priorities.

We call on governments to restart negotiations for an international
investment agreement in a forum that allows for democratic public input and
the participation of all the world's countries. The World Trade Organization
(WTO) is not such a transparent forum and we will oppose efforts to shift
the MAI to the WTO.

We believe that democratic negotiations would result in a different approach
to the regulation of foreign investment. Our vision of an investment
agreement begins with the baseline that governments on all levels should
retain the flexibility to regulate investment to meet public needs. As
opposed to the excessive rights granted to corporations in the MAI, we
believe that investors should be required to meet minimum environmental,
labor, human rights and social standards wherever they operate.

Citizens should be empowered to hold investors accountable to these
standards. In place of investor to state dispute resolution, an investment
agreement should ensure that domestic or international enforcement
mechanisms are accessible to the public.

Finally, an agreement on investment should encourage rather than eliminate
controls on short-term investment. Investment negotiations should lead to
international cooperation to discourage destabilizing financial flows.

The details of these proposals will only be worked out through a democratic
process of consultation. We would welcome the opportunity for citizens to
channel their engagement on international economic issues in this direction.
If not, we stand ready to continue our political opposition to the MAI and
similar unbalanced rules wherever they are proposed. We will base our
decisions on the government's actions in the next months.


Mark Vallianatos
Friends of the Earth
ph: 202-783-7400 x231
fax: 202-783-0444
e-mail: mvallianatos

Margrete Strand Rangnes
MAI Project Coordinator
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington DC, 20003
202-546 4996, ext. 306
202-547 7392 (fax)

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