(en) dancing on the ruins of multinational corporations

Lyn Gerry (linjin@tao.ca)
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 18:14:40 pst


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Subject: dancing on the ruins of multinational corporations

how about this one?

From: Wanda Ballentine <wandab@aragorn.ori.org>

STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON GLOBALIZATION ON THE MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENTS: A TREATY FOR CORPORATE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES, JANUARY 13, 1997

This year the industrialized nations of the world are quietly trying to finalize a treaty to create a corporate utopia by restricting any local

governmental controls over transnational corporate investments throughout the world. The treaty, which is called the Multilateral Agreement on Investments, would first be approved by the industrialized countries within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and subsequently forced on the rest of the world. A parallel exercise is ongoing in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The treaty would give transnational corporations expansive new rights and powers and burden nations with new obligations owed to corporations. It would require nations to give foreign investors access to all economic sectors. It would abolish the power of citizens and governments to control the entry, conditions, behavior, and operations of transnational companies in their country. This right is especially vital for developing countries as it would effectively close the possibility of domestic capacity building.

The adverse social, economic, environmental, and cultural consequences of various transnational corporate investments and companies, which now occur even when they are subject to government regulation, would be greatly magnified. In practice, this means that people anywhere on the globe could wake up and find that a local business, forest, or farm, or even an entire communications system or an entire employment sector, was bought and is now controlled by a transnational company with no interest in the well-being of that community.

The power of national or local governments to screen the worst transnational corporations or to attach performance requirements to protect local people and their environment would be removed by this treaty. But the rights given to these corporations would not stop here. The treaty would give them the right to binding dispute resolution and enable them to initiate lawsuits against governments to protect their interests. Thus, these corporations would be able to challenge another country's laws as violating global investor rights.

The treaty would prohibit transnational investments from being treated differently from local or national investments. In practice, this could mean that recycling content laws, local hiring requirements, and other community-based regulations could be challenged by a transnational company on the grounds that since it is harder for them to comply with such regulations, these regulations are discriminatory and therefore illegal. In summary, the treaty puts into practice the ideology that the entire natural and social diversity of the planet are resources to be controlled by global companies.

The International Forum on Globalization, a group of eminent economists and leading social and environmental activists which met in San Francisco to review the proposed treaty, calls on governments of the world to reject this treaty and asks concerned citizens to spread the word about its harmful potential impacts on their communities. <endquote>

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