MULTILATERAL and BILATERAL AGREEMENTS ON INVESTMENT
Government's Agreement on
to protect the peoples of the
- rather than a Business Corporation's
Multilateral Agreement on Investment that even
nations must abide by (MAI)
A CALL FOR A
NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS' AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT
that corporations must abide by (NGAI)
The major functions of governments are
- the protection of the people
- preventing desolation of the earth and
- ensuring a heritage for the future
Therefore, the aims of the proposed National Government's Agreement on Investment are:
1. To ensure that international capital investments are legally bound to work within the guidelines of these aims, so that social justice, land care and national sovereignty cannot be overruledfor the sake of returns to shareholders.
2. To set out obligations and responsibilities of international capital, as well as clarifying the extent of its rights when operating in other countries beyond its source boundaries -
- The degree of protection of businesses from arbitrary confiscation or financial extortion or unpredicted demands is not unlimited and some guarantees must be there for fair treatment.
Contracts entered into - eg: for construction requiring international expertise - must be transparent, public and honoured.
Piracy of patents and copyrights must be stopped - as long as these have not been imposed on forms of plant and animal life previously under no restricted ownership.
3. To simplify operations of international commerce, while still allowing separate treaties between countries.
4. To ensure that multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes in the countries within which they operate, and that financial dealings and speculation are also subject to tax.
5. To prevent international speculations, paper shuffling, futures trading and other financial dealings that profit none except the manipulators, but can cause national meltdowns.
- Governments together can impose taxation and other restrictions on these activities, so that such dealings can no longer create billionaires who have contributed nothing to earn their wealth.
6. To prevent national governments from seeking to promote the interests of their own corporate businesses in a colonial or imperialist fashion in other countries.
- No country should be pressured to allow foreign investment or trade in that it does not want. The Conquistadors and Commander Perry are no longer to be model heroes for international commercial relations.
The Agreement spells out in general terms which foreign investment benefits a country, and which does not.
7. To retain the sovereignty of individual nations to determine their own destinies by the democratic decisions of their people.
8. To set the principle that Co-operation has priority over Competition,
to ensure that the race is not to destruction.
The Agreement is to be revised every five years to ensure usefulness as situations change.
For example, foreign investment in a country is beneficial if it
- complements and supplements domestic investment and business, in creating useful and innovative production
- improves production and distribution to the benefit of workers and consumers in that country
- creates useful jobs
- conserves natural resources
- improves infrastructure and the environment
- encourages domestic companies to also be innovative and efficient without allowing antisocial commercial, work and environmental practices
- pays as a minimum the same taxes and charges as domestic companies
- in the long-term makes that country more prosperous rather than more debt-ridden.
Foreign investment is to be discouraged by the strength of national governments in combination and by legislation of individual countries when it:
- makes the financial scene more potentially unstable eg: through fortunes made and lost in speculation and paper-shuffling
- buys land and existing property for speculative investment and so drives up the prices.
- takes over prosperous domestic firms
- has controlling interests in the media
- takes over domestic firms and effectively asset-strips and replaces home production with overseas production
- ravages the land to extract natural resources and then leaves.
- replaces self-sustainability or biodiversity by cash crops or monocultures
- uses unfair practices such as dumping, misleading labelling, ruinous lawsuits,
and turning into private property what should be to the benefit of the whole community.
- uses 'commercial confidentiality' to cloak dealings that should be transparent
- uses 'commercial confidentiality' in negotiations with government at any level.
- makes donations to political parties. Donations to any purpose are only acceptable when they are clean from any possibility of swaying political, commercial or educational decisions in their favour.
- removes the desirability of saving for investment among the people of the host nation.
- Nation states are to have no obligations to give overseas companies any favoured business privileges.
- - They may decide to restrict or deny overseas investment in particular areas.
- They have the right to give their domestic industries whatever support they wish.
- They have the right to give preference to domestic industries in tenders.
- They have the right to impose tariffs or other restrictions on importing businesses, it is their own lookout if other countries reciprocate.
- They have the right to set performance requirements.
- They have the right to nationalise industries and to renationalise privatised industries with due compensation.
Problems for nations to work out how to counter, prevent or avoid
Litigation - Multinational companies are to be restricted in their use of litigation to break opponents.
(How to counter continual appeals, costly court filibustering, armies of lawyers.)
Multinationals can only sue a government in its own courts under its own laws, or apply to an international court (United Nations? the Hague?) that is not a tribunal dominated by other corporate interests, and which can quickly refer the case back to that country's courts (details of this can be worked out).
Blackmail by multinationals. Nations must combine to prevent this.
What is the blackmail that is making non-rich governments come to heel over the MAI?
To even contemplate rollback provisions, no provision for further exemptions, five years to resign and fifteen years after that to withdraw privileges once given?
How have Australia's Labor and Liberal parties been deluded, forcibly persuaded or tempted?
Problems can be faced and solved, such as the impenetrable webs of shelf companies, trusts and subsidiaries to hide what is going on.
The sort of brains that have been used to get people to the moon can now be turned to how
to prevent large-scale business wangling.
We have used human intelligence to create marvellous machines that construct and destroy. We are wasting our brains today in multiplying accountants and lawyers who shuffle and accumulate wealth. We could use our brains to save ourselves.
1Multinational corporations can cause social and environmental disturbance - as when pressuring nations to import foodstuffs that would destroy a country's farmers and self-sustainability, when domestic production is sufficient, efficient and cheap enough.
2 The international unity of sovereign nations can force international companies to pay fair shares of taxation for the business conducted within each nation, at the rates set by each individual nation. No pay, no stay. Nations set higher rates of taxation for firms that evade responsibilities in other countries.
3 The living standards of the world in general have been raised by the worldwide availability of cheap mass-produced goods and by projects of infrastructure and industrial development financedby overseas investors.
But there have been dreadful achievements as well.
Books of 'The last Primitives' illustrated by pictures of the last 'primitive' tribes, who have never seen a white man - and the people wear sloganned T-shirts and Coca Cola cans are on the ground.
Dwellers in the terrible city slums of developing countries wear cotton and denim that are not the rags that once universally clad the poor.
The great achievements of international capital have been improvement of the human lot worldwide.
Without capacity for
regulation within and between countries,there is
way to limit the
environmental and social
greed and temptations to
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