When it comes to lobbying for the MAI, the US Council for International Business (USCIB) has proven to be one of the most influential industry groups. Founded in 1945 "to promote an open system of world trade, investment and finance",75 it counts over 300 corporations, industry lobby groups, law firms and banks among its membership -- including the American Petroleum Institute, BP America, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Dupont, General Electric, General Motors, the Global Climate Coalition, Honeywell, Ford, McDonalds, Mobil, Monsanto, Nestlé USA, Philip Morris, Shell, Texaco and Unilever. The USCIB is the US affiliate of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), and most significantly, chairs the expert group of the OECD's Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC).

150 CEOs are busy pushing for investment liberalization through the USCIB's Investment Committee, chaired by Glen Skovholt of the Honeywell corporation.76 This policy committee has been very active on the MAI, and has used its widespread corporate tentacles for various pressure tactics. In addition to regular meetings with US negotiators immediately before and after each MAI negotiating session, the USCIB has also arranged direct access for it members to Ambassador Frans Engering, chairman of the OECD MAI negotiating group. Domestic support for MAI has been created by the USCIB's collaboration with groups such as the National Governors' Association and the Council of State Government.

The USCIB's interest in investment liberalization initiatives is not restricted to the MAI in the OECD. Facilitated by its membership in bodies like the Business Advisory Council for APEC and the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), where it co- chairs the working group on investment, the USCIB ensures that investment remains at the top of the agenda in all relevant fora, including the WTO and regional treaties. Overseas pressure is also a tactic, and a USCIB delegation visited the Japanese business organization Keidanren in Kyoto in order to enlist support for US business objectives in the MAI.77 There is no doubt that the USCIB has influenced the MAI from the beginning of the process. In 1991, four years before official negotiations began and long before MAI was out in the open, the USCIB was already providing input on pre-negotiation work. Later, in March of 1995, the Council released a statement clarifying US business objectives, which in its own words "formed the basis of the formal BIAC submission to the OECD".78

The USCIB is clear about why it desires a MAI treaty: "The MAI should eliminate many of the restrictions which make it too costly for US firms to access foreign markets", according to Stephen Canner, the USCIB's Vice-President for Investment Policy.79 Consequently, the USCIB agrees with other industry groups that the inclusion of labour and environmental provisions in the MAI would be an enormous blunder, and has encouraged the US administration to resist pressure from these interests.80 Such provisions, it believes, "will deter key LDCs (Least Developed Countries), who are not members of the OECD, from adhering [and] thereby undercut a major objective of the United States -- to have a number of key non-OECD member countries join the MAI before beginning negotiations on investment in the WTO".81

Recently the USCIB has shifted its focus to ensure that any reference to labour and environment in the MAI remains non- binding, threatening to withdraw its support for the MAI if this line is crossed.82 The trio of provisions (the so-called "three-anchor approach") that the group could swallow coincides with the environmental provisions presented by the US. These are a non-binding preambular statement on sustainable development, a non-binding provision on not lowering standards to attract foreign investment, and a non-binding attachment to the OECD's 1974 Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

The USCIB also invested some energy in damage control after NGO campaigning in the US had stirred up some serious public doubts about the MAI. In December of 1997, the USCIB published a letter in the Washington Times83 trying to calm fears about the MAI. The letter mocks the concerns of MAI critics, sarcastically asking: "Will the MAI allow big, bad multinational corporations to trample the rights of poor countries, undermine existing national environmental legislation and take away from U.S. states their constitutional rights? Let's look at the facts..." and referring to "the feverish atmosphere of Internet chat rooms".84 The bottom line, the groups argues, is that investment is not bad for the environment, and that it will benefit "the United States in general ... making the economic pie grow both here and abroad.85

Overview corporate lobby groups

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