Federal Government  misleads us on MAI revival

  The West Australian coalition against a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (Stop MAI) has criticised the Federal Government’s response to the 14th report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties entitled "Multilateral Agreement on Investment: Interim Report," tabled on 11 March 1999 in the Senate.

  In response to the Committee's recommendation that the public inquiry into the MAI [Multilateral Agreement on Investment] be continued, the Government (per Senator Abetz) said "It is clear . . .that the draft MAI text has no status and that negotiations on the MAI have ceased.

"Therefore there seems no reason for the Government to continue its public inquiry into the MAI".

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  Stop MAI is aware that a timetable has been laid down by the European Union and other developed countries for a transition of the failed Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) MAI negotiations to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).  According to a statement on 11 March by the United Kingdom Trade Minister, Brian Wilson, such negotiations may commence in January 2000.

  The Australian Government is fully aware of this move, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is in fact currently seeking public submissions on the subject of future multilateral trade negotiations in the WTO !

  "In the absence of continuing government consultation and transparency on this issue, Stop MAI intends to further raise public awareness of Australia's actions.  We will be meeting with local non-government organisations on Monday (15 March) and will be moving to refocus the debate in the WTO forum," a Stop MAI spokesperson said today.  __END__

(Adapted from a 12 March 1999 News Release by the Stop-MAI WA Coalition, 05 Apr 1999)

Stop-MAI WA Coalition contacts: Brian Jenkins 08 9246 3882, Dr Dion Giles 08 9335 7646

Canberra asks for submissions on multilateral trade negotiations

  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is inviting the public to comment on the government's approach to multilateral trade negotiations through the World Trade Organisation (WTO).  (Informed sources suspect the reason is that MAI is being expanded and sent on to a world forum much wider than the OECD.)

  Views are invited on the desirability for Australia of including such issues as trade, investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement, electronic commerce, industrial market access, etc.

  Of much interest is the invitation to comment on "The operation and effect on Australia's national interest of existing WTO agreements."

  Send submissions to Trade Policy Section, Trade Negotiations Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, R.G.Casey Building, Barton, ACT, 0221, Australia.  Further information from Mr Moran 02 6261 2980.

(This segment adapted from a weekly commentary 09 Apr 1999.)

Labor Senator opposes Coalition response to Treaties Committee Report -- although Labor began the talks

   Tasmanian Labor Senator Shayne Murphy on 25 March 1999 issued a statement that:

"The Government's response is particularly disappointing given:-

  Senator Murphy, who was a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties while it was inquiring into MAI, spoke in the Senate on 11 March giving similar detail.  He talked of the lack of real consultation with the community, sovereignty, the ownership of the telecommunication industry, and the significant effect on Local Government.

  Senator Abetz (for the Coalition Government) pointed out that it was Labor that had started the process of Australian officials going to Paris to negotiate the MAI. (This segment put on WWW 05 Apr 1999.)

The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in March 1999 issued its Report 18, "Multilateral Agreement on Investment:
Final Report
," which was tabled in Federal Parliament around 25 March 1999.
MAI plans to force reversal of democratic decisions: Senator

  Australia would have had to repeal democratically-made governmental decisions if the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) had been adopted, a Tasmanian Senator said in Parliament on 25 March 1999.

 He is Senator Shayne Murphy (Labor)., who was previously on the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT, or JSCT).  (See above for a small part of his previous comments on MAI.)

  Australian banks were lending the funds used by overseas companies to take over the country's airports.

 Senator Murphy said that, in effect, the government said that Australia had withdrawn from the MAI negotiations because the French government withdrew.  There was no indication of whether, if the French went back, would Australia go back.

  The JSCT had recommended that from the beginning of any such negotiations towards an across-countries agreement for the regulation of international capital, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet ought to keep the public and all relevant government agencies informed, and invite public submissions.

  Senator Murphy said that the compensation provisions of the MAI could have allowed for private companies to actually sue local government, state governments, and the national government.

  Under MAI Australia had to treat foreign companies and investors equal to national companies and investors.  Under the compensation provisions, companies could actually sue governments.

  We would have had to repeal democratically-made decisions.  "That is not a position any government or country should allow itself to be put into," he said.

  Regarding the Telstra privatisation discussions, he said that despite the government's claims that it was going to legislate for, he thought, 35 per cent maximum foreign ownership or 5 per cent in any single foreign holding, under MAI this restriction would have had to be removed over time.

  The MAI could have led to the elimination of the Foreign Investment Review Board.

  Mr Graham Dunkley had made a critical analysis, and in it he said:

Finally, the ultimate argument for the MAI is that FDI [foreign direct investment] is good, TNCs [transnational corporations] are good, globalization is good; perhaps even greed is good.

  The traditional arguments for FDI are that it will supplement savings, expand investment, boost GDP [gross domestic product] growth, generate exports, create jobs, bring new technologies, improve skills and generally enhance innovation.

  However, savings, investment and income will only be bolstered if new investment continues to out-weigh profit repatriation.

  Exports may only be generated if the corporations choose to make the country an export platform.

  The balance of payments will only be improved if exports are generated, counter-imports are not too high, adverse transfer pricing is not used, and capital is imported (rather than simply raised locally as the new foreign private owners of Australia's airports have done.)

  Senator Murphy said the government owed the parliament and the people a better explanation of where it was headed.  "When the French have jumped back in, will we be back in? ... I think it is a disgrace ..."

  (In a 7 April circular, Senator Murphy stated that the Treaties Committee's Final Report could be obtained from: Committee Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Treatues, Department of House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra  ACT  2600, Tel 02 6277 4002, Fax 02 6277 4827, and on the internet at http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jsct/index.htm   (This segment added 09 Apr 1999)

Seattle and other North American Local Governments declare themselves "MAI-free" zones.  See: http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/mfz.html .

Former Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Paul Hellyer, interviewed on Australian Broadcasting Commission around 15 April 1999, has written a book exposing the world centralisation he used to be party to.  THE EVIL EMPIRE: Globalization's Darker Side, 1997, Canada, Chimo Media, 114 pages, $CAN9.95 Softcover.  See:  http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/25/046.html

Australia, importing more agricultural products than ever, is approaching the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to further reduce every nation's ability to protect its own farmers from predatory importers.  Read Australia's and New Zealand's proposals in Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest April 26 1999 at http://www.ictsd.org/html/storyc.26-04-99.htm

PATRICIA RANALD came to Perth to speak against MAI 26 June 1999

Patricia Ranald is a Senior Research Fellow, Public Sector Research Centre, University of New South Wales

Read her previous anti-MAI writings at http://dove.mtx.net.au/~hermann/ranald.htm  or more about her ideas at:

M.A.I.   (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) and related links on other Websites:

Stop MAI  Australia's public-awareness site
MAI-Not (Canada) An international newsgroup archive
Swindle of Multinationals Paying Little or No Tax
MAI-Day Alert about Multilateral Agreement on Investment

For MAI campaign details in Western Australia, click http://www.iinet.net.au/~jenks/WA1.html

To resist the MAI Mark II, that is, the World Trade Organisation's moves, contact this Website:    http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/mai/Sign-ons/WTOStatement.htm
and give worldwide exposure to Eric Drooker's wonderful 'Terminator' graphic which is freely available at: http://www.corpwatch.org/artwork/eric-drooker/index.html
You can also get good information from Global Trade Watch at: http://www.citizen.org/pctrade/activism/activist.htm

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