Business had direct input throughout the entire negotiation process. Apart from the formal consultations carried out by the negotiating group with both the business and industry and trade union advisory councils at the OECD (BIAC and TUAC, respectively) , an "ad hoc group of BIAC experts ... meets with and advises OECD negotiators prior to each negotiation session".20
The negotiators made extensive use of the "expertise" of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), for instance in shaping the dispute settlement mechanism. In fact the ICC's own court of arbitration is one of the three possible bodies that corporations can turn to for dispute settlement purposes.21
And no less important than these direct injections into the OECD process is the lobbying done by industry on the national level. The US Council for International Business, for example, has "regular meetings with US negotiators immediately before and after each MAI negotiating session".22 Similar close cooperation between industrialists and national negotiators has taken place in many other OECD countries, including Canada and the Netherlands. The pressure by the Dutch negotiators on the US to withdraw its reservation on research and development (R&D) subsidies was a direct result of lobbying from Dutch based TNC Philips. Philips wanted to ensure its access to R&D subsidies in the US.23
Corporate lobby groups like the ICC and the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT) have used their political access at the highest political levels, including summits of global importance like the G-7, to stress the need for a speedy completion of the MAI and for keeping the agenda clear of labour and environmental demands.
The basis for the cosy consultations between governments and corporate lobby groups throughout the MAI drafting process is that the business agenda is wholeheartedly embraced by several of the most influential negotiating delegations. The ICC's April 1996 "Multilateral Rules for Investment" report leaves no doubt about the almost complete consensus between the MAI negotiators and industry. 24 The rules proposed in the report are basically identical to the first MAI draft that was completed 9 months later.
Generally, economic or trade ministry officials represent their countries in the MAI negotiations in the OECD. In the Netherlands, the traditionally close connections between industry and economic and trade ministries were exploited to their full potential. The Dutch negotiators sided with industry in their mutual aim to get "as many obstacles as possible to foreign investment removed". 25 Dutch Secretary of State for Economic Affairs van Dok-van Weelen reported to the Dutch Parliament in November 1995 that national treatment should also apply to "issues like public procurement and the granting of all kinds of subsidies and guarantees". 26 In many countries, the MAI went largely unnoticed by other ministries -- for instance those of environment, social affairs and culture -- until a very late stage.
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© Corporate Europe Observatory, February 1998
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