INDEPENDENT NEWS

No new MAI - let it die

Published: Sun 14 Sep 2003 01:25 PM
No new MAI - let it die
There is a crisis in the WTO meeting at Cancun over the "New Issues" that the European Union wants the world to agree to in exchange for a tiny opening in its agricultural market. New Zealand negotiators have intervened to try to make the unacceptable acceptable. ARENA (Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa) calls on the New Zealand government to recognise that the agreements the EU wants are unacceptable to most of the world and to let them die.
"Rather than playing around with the unacceptable, New Zealand should positively acknowledge that the majority of the world, and of the WTO, opposes these issues being foist upon them through the WTO. There is very clearly no consensus for negotiations, as required by the previous WTO Ministerial meeting at Doha. There should be no negotiations on these New Issues," said a spokesperson for ARENA Leigh Cookson.
"It would be crazy to open up the world further to unregulated corporate interests. That was soundly rejected in the debates over the MAI. Let it die."
The EU wants an Investment agreement that would revive the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which the OECD tried to negotiate, but was soundly rejected around the world in 1998, including widespread protest in New Zealand.
It wants a Competition agreement which would be just as dangerous, threatening public services and economic development.
It wants agreements on "transparency in" government procurement and trade facilitation which threaten the ability of governments to foster local suppliers, and which would load unaffordable compliance costs on developing countries with much more pressing priorities, such as poverty.
There is huge opposition from the poor countries of the WTO. 71 developing countries representing the great majority of the world's population, and including all the poorest "Least Developed Countries", have stated their opposition to the "New Issues" (or "Singapore Issues") and others share their concerns.
New Zealand negotiators in Cancun have suggested that an investment agreement be accepted but watered down to "best practice focused on transparency post establishment". That would open the subject for negotiations, with unpredictable and unacceptable results.

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