Dec 1/97: No MAI - Haaere Atu!


Ngaa Kaiwhakanekeneke #107
Monday, December 1, 1997


#NK107a Anti M.A.I. Action Group forms in Wellington
#NK107b M.A.I - Date of Wgtn Consultation Hui
#NK107c Local Opinion on the Value of 'Reservations'
#NK107d Matt Robson on M.A.I
#NK107e World Development Movement - Report on NGOs MAI meeting

Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997
From: Maria Bargh

Kia ora ano John

A bit of info:

Yesterday the Anti M.A.I. Action Group held its first meeting at the TMA office here in Wellington.

The group is made up of Maori and Pakeha students, Grey Power, CARITAS (, Alliance, PIRM and others.

We began organising action.

Anyone interested can contact me:, or others eg.

Hugh Price (Grey Power)

Lowell Manning (Alliance)

Ron Cundy (PIRM)

Matthew Hodgetts (CARITAS)

Naku noa iti nei,


[Note from John Tovey, Nekeneke editor: E-mail id's inserted by me from old records.]

#NK107b M.A.I - Date of Wgtn Consultation Hui
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997
From: Maria Bargh

Kia ora John,

I have just heard that the first TPK consultation hui re: MAI will be held: 10 Dec, 1997 at Pipitea Marae.

An open forum for all Maori. It would be good if we could get lots of people there to say NO to MAI.

#NK107c Local Opinion on the Value of 'Reservations'
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997
Subject: Re: NK105 Transcript of MAI Discussion

Kia Ora John!

How are things with you?

I just wanted to quickly make a point about the discussion on the MAI that you just posted. One point that wasn't made in this discussion is that, even if the Treaty is included in the reservations and ignoring the other points about the MAI, my understanding is that ALL reservations will be subject to roll-back - i.e. governments will be expected to remove their reservations over time. Thus any protection of the Treaty will only be for a few years, before it is abandoned.

I'm not aware that there are any provisions to make some reservations permanent - i.e. not subject to roll back. But even if there were, I would be VERY sceptical that they would be anything but temporary measures to placate some of the worried governments at the moment. Once the MAI was in place, there would then be movements from the OECD and TNCs to remove all reservations.

This is not to say that protection of the Treaty would make the MAI okay - obviously protection of the state understanding of the Treaty would still leave maaori as well as paakehaa wide open to attack from TNCs, as was pointed out in the discussion. I guess the point that I think should also be made is that protection of the Treaty in the reservations is not even an issue - it is merely an expedient to get the thing through with as little trouble as possible - i.e. a sham. And the evidence for that is contained within the language of the MAI itself!

I'm sure all of this is well-known, but just thought I'd make the point as too much is being made of reservations (mainly by the politicians) in my view.

Ka kite,


#NK107d Matt Robson on M.A.I
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 1997

Matt Robson, Alliance MP

11 November 1997 Hon Derek Quigley
Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Select Committee
Parliament Buildings

Dear Derek,

Re: MAI Briefing to Select Committee

In comparing my notes of the comments made by Officials at the briefing on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment with the draft text of the Agreement I am dissatisfied with a number of the answers given and wish to suggest that we recall the Officials for further questioning. In my view, a wrong or incomplete impression was given on a number of points.

In the course of the briefing I noticed that the two senior Foreign Affairs officials looked to each other for inspiration several times, and I formed the impression that they were not completely familiar with the details of the text. In view of the significance of the MAI as a long-term international agreement, the Committee has a duty to thoroughly scrutinise the proposed terms of the agreement.

My specific points of concern are the following:

1) In the discussion on possible privatisations a question was asked about the possibility of granting New Zealand nationals preferential ownership rights. The Officials could not answer immediately and the question was lost in the ensuing discussion and never returned to. On reading the text (page 25), I find that the MAI contemplates the possibility of a government granting the nationals of a country rights at first offering, but then specifically prohibits any limitations on subsequent sales. This prohibition reinforces the prohibition on future "Kiwi share" type provisions, and heightens, rather than relieves, the concerns raised by Mike Moore, Geoff Braybrooke and myself.

2) Geoff Braybrooke raised a question about possible future Japanese ownership of New Zealand Post, in the event of a privatisation. Mr Bisley reassured the Committee that the foreign investment approval process under the Overseas Investment Act would be reserved under the MAI, but he failed to point out to the Committee that in the case of industrial and commercial investments there is no national interest test in the Overseas Investment Act (section 14A). In other words, the concern raised by Mr Braybrooke would not be addressed by the combination of the MAI and the Overseas Investment Act, which would in fact assist the sale of NZ Post to a foreign owner in any future privatisation process.

3) I asked about the ability of a future New Zealand government to impose a windfall profit tax on a monopoly and was told by Mr Kennedy that taxation matters are excluded from the MAI. However, I see quite specifically in the draft text (page 80) that the imposition of a tax can fall within the definition of an expropriation.

4) I asked about the ability of the New Zealand government to restrict monopolistic activities by certain corporations (e.g. the telephone numbering plan) and was told by Dr Prebble that the government would be quite free to take actions against monopolies. However, a reading of the text (page 51) makes this look doubtful. Actions such as placing the telephone numbering plan in public ownership or separating the lines and energy businesses of the power companies would affect the equity of the companies concerned (and could therefore be regarded as expropriations) and it would be hard to prove non-discrimination in the case of monopolies.

5) Questions were also asked about the Treaty of Waitangi reservation. Officials maintained that they have lodged a "broad" reservation in the case of the Treaty. However, the text of the reservation refers only to "favourable measures ... in relation to the acquisition, establishment or operation of any commercial or industrial undertaking." It does not refer to Maori property rights per se or to Treaty rights as a whole.

I think you will agree that these are significant points and that the answers of the Officials on these points were less than precise.

In addition there are other matters to which we should give attention, but did not have time for the other day. For example, the requirement that state enterprises treat overseas investors the same as domestic investors in the sale of their goods and services (for instance, a Crown Research Institute would have to make its technology equally available to overseas companies); environmental and labour standards; and, the ability of overseas companies to enforce the MAI in New Zealand courts.

I suggest that we recall the Officials for further clarification. It may assist the process if the committee discusses the issues in advance and submits a list of agreed questions.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Robson MP,
Alliance Party,
Parliament Buildings

#NK107e World Development Movement - Report on NGOs MAI meeting.

W.D.M. report on the NGOs MAI meeting in Paris
From: Peter Goodwin []
Subject: W.D.M. report on the NGOs in Paris

The World Development Movement, based in the UK, has sent supporters this report on the meeting between MAI negotiators and NGOs in Paris:

Update on the MAI Negotiations

WDM has just returned from a meeting with OECD negotiators in Paris. More than 60 campaigners from 25 different countries made a unanimous and strong statement to OECD and government representatives calling for fundamental change to the draft agreement. The negotiators were unable to answer the vital questions posed by NGOs, and refused to agree to our key demands.

The negotiators had been placing bets that the NGOs would not be able to agree a concensus statement that took account of the wide range of development, environment, human rights and consumer groups from the North and South. They were wrong! NGOs from around the world are united in their opposition and have returned to their countries to launch a global campaign against this "dangerous leap in the dark". Our key demands were to:

1. Undertake an independent assessment into the social, environmental and developmental impact of the MAI.

2. Suspend negotiations, scheduled to be completed by April 1998, to allow for meaningful public consultation, input and participation.

3. Negotiate an enforceable international agreement on the responsibilities of multinational companies rather than giving them sweeping new rights under the MAI.

NGOs gave many examples of the types of national laws that would be prohibited under the MAI, including protection of the rights of workers, local communities, consumers, indigenous people and the environment. The experience of Canada and Mexico, subject to similar provisions under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), showed how governments would be sued for laws that protect public health from toxic chemicals and toxic waste dumps. The World Trade Organisation ruling on bananas has also shown how multinationals can overturn support for small farmers in the Caribbean. With the MAI, negotiators are about to sign a new agreement that will further extend the power of multinationals and diminish the role of governments.

NGOs pointed out that the MAI was started during a time of "liberalisation at all costs". Now, there are new governments (including in the UK) and a growing movement of people concerned about unaccountable multinationals (such as the banana "cowboys", Rio Tinto and Shell). Other international agencies, even the World Bank, are changing their tune. But these changes have bypassed the OECD and DTI. At a time when the headlong rush to globalisation is increasingly being questioned, with increasing inequalities between rich and poor, and in the midst of sharemarket crashes around the world, the MAI is "a liberalisation agreement too far".

NGOs from the South gave examples of the pressure they were under already to sign up to the MAI, despite repeated assurances that this is an agreement for the rich countries. The assurances are clearly refuted by papers from the powerful business lobby that is behind the MAI. These papers clearly identify the developing countries as the main target for the MAI. Meanwhile negotiators have been unable to come up with any examples of countries that have been able to develop under the policies included in the draft MAI. This agreement will lock the poorer countries into a low wage, cheap commodity economy. It must be stopped!

(signed) Barry Coates, WDM Director

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