Just when progressives around the globe thought that they had a firm grasp on the strategy and tactics of 'globalisation', along comes the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Presented as a "global treaty" which will create "a constitution of a single global economy", the MAI is, in truth, the latest attempt to ensure that trans-national corporations (TNC's) have almost absolute control across the world.

At a time when imperialism continues to force national governments to dance to the tune of TNC's, the MAI represents a further attempt to restrict the power of the public sector. Its main goal is to reduce the ability of the state (at all levels) to: affect economic development in favour of the majority; institute progressive environmental and labour standards; and retain and develop domestic industries. Prepared by the 28 member countries of the European-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the MAI seeks to apply a deregulatory agenda to areas not covered by existing global trade and investment treaties. This would include trade in currency, stocks and bonds as well as the ownership of land and natural resources. The MAI would also allow corporate capital to by-pass progressive developmental measures that have been instituted by various states, such as environmental regulations, requirements for job creation and protection, social clauses in public contracts etc.

Put simply, if MAI is instituted it will effectively hold national and local development hostage to the 'free market' dictates of the TNC's. Any country that is signatory to the MAI, a process that will itself not necessarily be 'voluntary', will face a situation where existing national and/or local requirements for 'investment' will be jeopardised.

The MAI goes beyond previous efforts by imperialism to make the world a shopping centre for capitalists. It will give TNC's the right to sue and collect compensation from national and/or local governments that exercise various controls on investment behaviour that are in conflict with the dictates of the MAI. In effect, globalised capital will be the 'new' government, and the MAI will provide it with the legal framework within which to undermine national and local sovereignty. Local and national governments would have no right to sue corporations on behalf of their people.

The capitalists have done everything in their power to ensure that the majority of people in the respective countries are not informed of their MAI plans - that there is no open debate or public scrutiny. Fortunately, they have failed! Already, there are mass campaigns beginning in the USA and some European countries to stop the MAI dead in its tracks. It is incumbent on all progressive forces to join in this all-important struggle against further capitalist dictatorship.


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