One of the most heavyweight corporate players behind the MAI is without doubt the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The ICC, which promotes itself as "the world business organization" with members in over 130 countries, is not primarily an umbrella for chambers of commerce from around the world as the name might suggest.58 Its membership includes some of the world's wealthiest transnational corporations: Asea Brown Boveri, Bayer, British Petroleum, Dow Chemical, General Motors, Hyundai, Nestlé, Novartis, Shell, Toshiba, Zeneca and so forth. Quite a few national business associations are also part of the ICC.

The ICC -- which clearly has ambitions to become a major player in global politics -- shares its chairman, Nestlé president Helmut Maucher, with the influential European Roundtable of Industrialists. The ICC's secretary-general is Maria Livanos Cattaui, who over a period of nearly two decades developed the World Economic Forum and its annual meeting in Davos into a hugely influential global summit of corporate leaders and top politicians.

ICC involvement in the MAI negotiations has partly been through the Business and Industry Advisory Council (BIAC), the official business delegation to the OECD negotiations. The Chamber itself has left a number of fingerprints on the draft treaty, for instance regarding arbitration. In the current draft, the ICC's Court of Arbitration is included as one of the main mechanisms for dispute settlement. Vincent J. O'Brien of the ICC says: "We definitely helped with the parts regarding arbitration. The ICC clearly has expertise in that area, and so it was natural that we had a hand in there."59 One of the most controversial aspects of the MAI, the investor-state dispute mechanism which will allow corporations to sue governments in an international court, has been developed with the assistance of ICC "experts". The role of the ICC in this mechanism will be to oversee disputes and facilitate the settlement process.

The MAI allows its signatories to declare certain laws exempt from the treaty for national security reasons. However, it is up to the MAI dispute settlement panel -- overseen by the ICC -- to determine whether such a claim is valid. No one is entirely sure how the MAI would affect national law, as interpretation of the treaty will be left to an independent panel appointed by defendants and the corporations bringing the dispute. Under the proposed MAI, state courts will have no jurisdiction in this area of law.

The ICC has also made use of its access and consultative status at major international summits to push for the MAI. During the Denver Summit of the G-7 in 1997, the ICC met with the heads of state of the Group of Seven most industrialized countries and presented its viewpoints. The ICC urged, among other things, the leaders to work harder to ensure that the MAI negotiations are concluded quickly and that there be a complete rejection of environmental and labour standards.60

The OECD treaty on investment is a major goal for the ICC, but it is only the first step. In the spring of 1996, the ICC published the report "Multilateral Rules for Investment"61 in which it expressed its support for all of the major elements in the MAI: the broad definition of investment, national treatment, most-favoured nation treatment, investment protection, and binding investor-state arbitration. The report strongly supports the MAI negotiations, but ends by calling for the December 1996 WTO Ministerial Conference to "begin within the WTO to establish a comprehensive and truly global framework of rules and disciplines to govern cross-border direct investment".62

Overview corporate lobby groups

Back to top of this part                                        Index                                        CEO home page

This page was installed on 11 February 1998 and last updated on 25 February 1998

If you have any questions or comments regarding these pages, please e-mail us at

© Corporate Europe Observatory, February 1998

We encourage you to spread this briefing or to use the information contained in it.
In the latter case we would appreciate receiving a copy of your article or publication.