From: Bob Olsen <email@example.com>
Subject: MAI: Corporate Plan to Replace Democratic Govt
Date: 25 Jan 1998 16:42:03 GMT
. . . the MAI has written into its detailed draft articles the rights of transnational corporations: to bid for and own any privatized public infrastructure, social good or cultural transmission without any limit of foreign control permitted by law. . . .
This dispossession of citizens and communities of their collective rights to protect their lives and resources as their own appears, in the end, to be grounded on a metaphysical principle that this total system of corporate market rule has a natural right to regulate all of the world's societies whether their citizens accept this necessary ordering of the world or not. . . .
In the end, we face a turn of history in which corporate-financed and publicized political parties serve corporate masters in a fast-track replacement of the democratic rule of law across the world. In this new economic fascism, the legal capacity of any government or any law which limits transnational corporations' control over the world's markets and ownership of all that is bought and sold in the world becomes illegal. The MAI is the international linchpin of what is, in the end, a totalitarian project for world rule.
COMMITTEE ON MONETARY REFORM CONFERENCE
John McMurtry, Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph
Toronto: January 24, 1998
The Multilateral Agreement on Investment is a document being negotiated behind closed doors by trade bureaucrats, lawyers, and corporate advisors from the 29 nations of the Paris based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It is a bridge between the NAFTA (North America Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World Trade Agreement) which is geared to project NAFTA terms of corporate rule from North America to the 29 countries of the OECD under the auspices of the WTO. If it succeeds, it will universalize NAFTA to the developed countries of the world. Once thus established, all nations will be obliged to follow suit as a condition of continued investment in their countries. The terms of irreversibility escalate from 6 months under NAFTA to 20 years under the MAI Treaty.
What the MAI seeks to add to already existing WTO regulations is the all-important and overriding right of transnational corporations not only to the movement of their commodities, up to 60% value intra-firm, across all national borders with no recourse of societies to limit this unconditional access to their markets, but also their unconditional right to directly own and control the internal economies of home societies with no home condition permissible under law.
As these facts have become known, they have been denied by Canada's Liberal Party in an extended series of misrepresentations. Not one of the continuous denials of Liberal Government ministers and members, however, has been substantiated by a single binding term of the MAI document. I and others have written to Members of Parliament, successive International Trade Ministers and the Minister of Foreign Affairs since June 1997 challenging each of them to identify a single term of the MAI which substantiates the various limits they allege on this sweeping treaty. Each and all has declined to respond with any evidence. They are apparently confident that continuous prevarications will do so long as the corporate media continue to reproduce only the lies and no exposure of them.
Overall, the MAI is governed by the same one-sided logic of prescriptive corporate rule as we have witnessed since the FTA of 1989. It too is a fast track initiative to institute as absolute, transnational law a regulatory framework which overrides all national, regional and municipal jurisdictions, policies and statutes wherever they conflict with unconditional corporate ownership of and market access to home economies.
The MAI's specific focus is protection of foreign investment capital. Its master principle is the blanket right to "national treatment" of transnational corporations in host societies. Under the agreement, foreign corporations must never be "discriminated against" by any government on any level on any account, such as their contribution to the well being of the home society. Serving the interests of the home society is deemed to be "protectionist". To accomplish the full colour of this right, a massive re-engineering of the access of foreign corporations to the the wealth of all societies is required.
Accordingly, the MAI has written into its detailed draft articles the rights of transnational corporations:
"We will oppose," stated the President of the U.S. Council For International Business in a letter to U.S. officials on March 21, 1997, "any and all measures to create or even imply binding obligations for governments or business related to environment and labour" (Tony Clarke, The Corporate Rule Treaty, Ottawa: Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, 1997, p.9).
- to export their commodities or services across all borders of locale or nation to other societies' markets with no conditions attached;
- to unilaterally purchase and own any built structure or productive capacity of any other signatory nation with no requirement to sustain its viablity, employment level or location in the home country;
- to own any salable natural resource of other countries and to have national right to any concession, licence or authorization to extract its oil, forest, mineral or other resources with no obligation to sustain these resources, or to use them in the interest of the host society;
- to profit from any commercial enterprise with no requirement to reinvest in the enterprise or any other enterprise in the country in which the resources have been received and the profits earned;
- to create credit and thus increase domestic money supply with no restriction on the amount of new currency demand so created in the host economy, however inflationary to the economy, or bankrupting to domestic citizens;
- to bid for and own any privatized public infrastructure, social good or cultural transmission without any limit of foreign control permitted by law;
- to access any domestic government grant, loan, tax incentive or subsidy with the same rights as any domestic firm with no means test, locale requirement or public-interest distinction permitted;
- to be free of any and all performance requirements of job creation, domestic purchase of goods, import-export reciprocation, and technology or knowledge transfer to the host society;
- to repel as illegal any national standards of human rights, labour rights or environmental protection on goods produced in and imported from other regions or nations. (This "process" protection disqualifies as "discriminatory" even packaging information which reports to consumers the method of manufacture of what they eat.
Corporate Rights To Rule, Public Obligations To Obey:
Under the proposed agreement, all provision by domestic governments of goods to their citizens by public ownership or control are construed as "monopolies". Monopolies of knowledge by corporate copyright, in contrast, are specially excepted as non-monopolies. This double standard is significant because monopoly designation entails special legal restrictions on pricing and distribution of goods which would be "an interference with business freedom to transact" on private corporations. Any public non-profit "monopoly" in health-care, education or other universally accessible life-good is, therefore, to be bound by the obligation to act "solely in acordance with commercial considerations in the purchase or sale of its good or service"; to "in particular" be prevented from the "abusive use of prices" which might adversely affect the market share of foreign corporate investors; and, in general, to be liable for damages for any "lost opportunity to profit from a planned investment" which might be incurred by public involvement in providing citizens with goods in which private foreign corporations could assert a market interest.
Worker buy-outs of enterprises, or return of their ownership to home investors are, moreover, not to be permitted any favourable loan, tax or start-up cost by public authority, since this would constitute a "discriminatory treatment" against foreign investors. "Educational products" as well as any other product, except military, the one article of trade given full protectionist walls by the treaty, are also prohibited from any limit on foreign control or domination. Any requirement for long-term commitment of investment in any strategic area such as the nation's natural resources or high-employment sector are, moreover, forbidden. Any other condition which reduces the right of foreign transnationals to move their profits and assets from the home society to other jurisdictions with lower environmental, labour, corporate-tax or safety standards is likewise prohibited by MAI law.
To avoid protests by citizens against such a one-sided bill of rights to transnational corporations at the expense of societies' established right to govern themselves, the MAI's planning and drafting were not reported by any government or, with rare exception, any mass media in any of the 29 countries involved, including Britain, France and Canada during their national election campaigns. To round out its assertion of overriding rights to multinationals at public expense, all the costs of this new regime to privilege transnational corporations above governments and electorates that is, the costs of its planning, negotiation, enforcement, adjudication, liablities for infraction are under the agreement to be paid for out of the public purse.
All of these facts are drawn from a draft of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, Paris, January 13 Draft, 1997. The draft in question includes reservations from specific countries on specific clauses for example, Norway with respect to the MAI's inclusion of "authorizations, licences and concessions for the prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons", a right of the home country which Norway's negotiators, mindful of Norway's reliance on public control of public oil resources for the funding of its social infrastructure, sought to exclude.
Definitions 2.b.9).The Unifying Principles
What unifies the diverse and sweeping prescriptions of this extra-Parliamentary formation of a transnational framework of law is the single, final goal of releasing corporate investment from any interference or social condition set by national or local public authority. Every term of the agreement is to guarantee this free subjecthood of "Investment" as sovereign over any democratic decision to set limits on its movement, location, time-frame, objective, or volume. What unifies the private monetary interests driving this would-be regime, in turn, is the fact that transnationally mobile corporations in all of the signatory jurisdictions are freed from accountability to any other interest, government or citizen body in their new guarantee of unlimited access to all of the markets, resources, subsidies and assets of the 29 societies involved. What makes this appropriation of public power by for-profit transnational corporations possible to impose on peoples' historically evolved rights of self-government is, in further turn, its absolutized expression of the global market program of value which is widely accepted as the final authority on how all societies ought to live. This dispossession of citizens and communities of their collective rights to protect their lives and resources as their own appears, in the end, to be grounded on a metaphysical principle that this total system of corporate market rule has a natural right to regulate all of the world's societies whether their citizens accept this necessary ordering of the world or not.
Society's liberation from this invisible prison begins with the clear recognition of what it is. It is a mindless program which has become decoupled from all interests other than the transnational investor in corporate form. It is also internationally lawless. For no part of it anywhere recognizes or seeks to comply with any term or article of the entire body of life-protective international law which nations have evolved over the twentieth century. This historic body of solemn covenants and international agreements which the community of nations has constructed as the shared norms of human civilization include laws for the prevention of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes, international labour and civil rights conventions, declarations for the prevention of genocide and torture, and environmental protocols and treaties. But there is no scintilla of recognition of even one of these international laws in the MAI or other transnational trade agreements. The sole, buried exception is Article 104 of the NAFTA, which parenthetically acknowledges that international protocols on the ozone layer and transboundary pollution can be complied with by societies without triggering transnational trade sanctions. But even this parenthetical qualification has not been heeded. Indeed virtually all of these international laws, however solemn and far-reaching, are daily violated in the new corporate regime, then condoned as "necessary for profitable international trade" and "competiveness within the new market order".
There is also an argument that the MAI is unconstitutional. Legal historian Tim Madden of the Borrowers' Advocate of British Columbia cites a 1937 judgement of the Privy Council of the British House of Lords that such agreements constitute a direct and unlawful subversion of constitutional authority:"[To] agree with a foreign country to enact such legislation would appear to undermine the constituional safeguards of Provincial constitutional autonomy. In other words, the Dominion (Canada) cannot, merely by making promises to other countries, clothe itself with legislative authority inconsistent with constitution which gave it birth." (Attorney-General of Canada and Attorney-General for Ontario, on Appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada;(1937) A.C.,pp. 326-354, at p. 52).
To restore sanity to this perfectly one-sided regime, already evolved and signed international laws would have to be included in trade treaties as prior obligations of contracting parties and their enterprises, upon which their right of access to other societies' markets, assets and resources was conditional. If they did not comply, they could be subject to barriers against their access to domestic markets, assets and resources. This long overdue rule of law in the new transnational trade order would not solve the problem of the loss of sovereignty of peoples over their own societies. But it would render the corporate monster of money-to-more-money rule across borders less lawless than it now is.
The problem with putting stock in the recent assertions of governments such as Canada's that there will be "labour and environmental standards" or other life-protective terms in the MAI is that even in these public-relations exercises, no established international human rights, labour or pollution-control laws are ever mentioned. This is because there is no intention of complying with them. Trade negotiators are, in fact, doing their utmost to ensure that no such life-protective standards or international laws are defined in the Treaty, and that none will be binding or obligatory. We know this from the fact that no legally binding term of this nature whatever has emerged from any reproduction of the MAI text or even claim of its negotiators or political advocates in the face of rising public outrage at these exclusions. That is why the MAI treaty is corrupt from start to finish.
In the end, we face a turn of history in which corporate-financed and publicized political parties serve corporate masters in a fast-track replacement of the democratic rule of law across the world. In this new economic fascism, the legal capacity of any government or any law which limits transnational corporations' control over the world's markets and ownership of all that is bought and sold in the world becomes illegal. The MAI is the international linchpin of what is in the end a totalitarian project for world rule.
Department of Philosophy
University of Guelph
Bob Olsen Toronto firstname.lastname@example.org (:-)