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(Information by courtesy of Margrete Strand Rangnes,
MAI Project Coordinator,
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, Washington DC)

SEATTLE IS A MAI-FREE ZONE!

If there ever was a slap in the face of the MAI boosters and the proponents of bringing the MAI to the World Trade Organization (WTO), THIS IS IT!

Seattle, the host city of the up-coming WTO Ministerial, declared itself an MAI Free-Zone by unanimous vote in the City Council on Monday, April 12, joining numerous cities both in the US and around the world.

Kudos to Sally Soriano of the Washington Fair Trade Campaign, who has been lobbying and educating the local officials, making sure that they all received hundreds of e-mails, letters and calls from activists in opposition to the MAI.

Ever since the negotiations of the MAI came to a stop at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in December, the proponents of the MAI have been looking for new venues for the negotiations. Several countries have cast their eyes on the WTO and want to see investment issues be included in the upcoming round.

The opposition to the MAI was based on substance, not the venue where it was being negotiated. It will continue to grow until the politicians realize that the MAI-model is fundamentally flawed, and start listening to the concerns of labor unions, environmental groups, human rights activists, consumer organizations, women's groups and all the other parts of the broad coalition that helped stop the MAI in the OECD.

If you are interested in working on your city council, check out Public Citizen's web-page at
www.tradewatch.org (click on the MAI). There you will find a sample resolution, a list of all the cities that are now "MAI Free" and helpful tips and information to get you started.

RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION expressing the Seattle City Council's support for ensuring Seattle's ability to regulate within its jurisdiction, decide how to spend its procurement funds, support local economic development, and pass laws regarding environmental protection and fair labor practices; and opposition to provisions of the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment, or similar international agreements, that could restrict this ability.

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle is actively engaged in and supports international trade which has resulted in the sale of goods from Seattle and Washington State, including apples and other agricultural products and high technology products, and increased employment growth in Seattle and Washington State; and

WHEREAS, investment treaties such as the draft MAI should not undermine local authority regarding fair labor practices; and environmental, economic development, and Land Use policies; and

WHEREAS, the United States government, through the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) has participated in negotiations on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) ; and

WHEREAS, several OECD countries are now working to move the negotiations of an international investment liberalization agreement similar to the MAI to other venues, including the World Trade Organization (WTO); and

WHEREAS, several regional trade and investment liberalization agreements now under negotiation are being targeted to include provisions of the draft MAI in them; and

WHEREAS, the opposition to some proposed provisions of the MAI is based on substantive criticism, not the venue where it is being negotiated; and

WHEREAS, significant elements in the MAI draft text, if adopted free-standing, or within other international agreements, could restrict the ability of state, county, and city governments to condition new major investment within their jurisdictions from performance requirements to support local economic development, and local hiring; and

WHEREAS, portions of the MAI draft text could restrict the ability of elected officials, including City government officials, to establish policies in the best interest of the City ; and

WHEREAS, the interests of the citizens of the City of Seattle are not promoted by agreements that provide no enforceable rights or protections for local workers, the environment, or communities ; and

WHEREAS, the 'National Treatment' provisions of the MAI draft text could prohibit the use of domestic procurement preferences, subsidies and other benefits to local businesses for the purpose of encouraging local economic development; and

WHEREAS, the MAI draft text could create a dispute resolution mechanism to be utilized by investors for claims against local governments which would be external to the United States federal court system, and therefore, unrestricted by existing judicial interpretations of U.S. Constitutional principles ; and

WHEREAS, the MAI draft text contains no public policy exception to the requirement to pay compensation even in an action to protect public health or environmental quality; and

WHEREAS, government entities are currently allowed to regulate within their
jurisdiction, without causing a compensable taking of private property, to the extent specified under existing interpretations of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution; and

WHEREAS, the MAI draft text, or similar international agreements, could supersede existing constitutional interpretations of a government's regulatory rights under the Fifth Amendment and restrict new regulation by state and local governments; and

WHEREAS, the Association of Washington Cities passed a resolution in support of '...the right of local elected officials to establish policies in the best interest of their constituents, and opposes the MAI to the extent that it violates this principle.'; and

WHEREAS, the Metropolitan King County Council unanimously passed a motion '...expressing opposition to the Draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment...'; and

WHEREAS, the Western Governors' Association passed a resolution objecting to the provisions of the MIA, following review of their report titled, 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment: Potential Effects on State and Local Government' that identified potential impacts, such as; limiting policies that favor local business, investment incentives, performance requirements, land use, and environmental regulations; and

WHEREAS, the Washington State Association of Counties and the National Association of Counties passed a resolution that: 'urges the Administration not to agree to any provisions in the MAI draft text or similar provisions of any international agreement that would preempt local governments' authority or ability to regulate activities within its jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, the municipalities of Olympia, Tumwater, San Francisco, Oakland, Houston, Boulder, Berkeley, and Vancouver, B.C. have passed resolutions opposing provisions of the MAI;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE THAT:

1. The Seattle City Council seeks to ensure the authority of local governments to regulate within their jurisdiction, pass laws regarding environmental protection and fair labor practices, support local economic development, and decide how to use public procurement dollars; and opposes the provisions of the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment, or similar provisions in any international agreement, which undermine such authority for local governments; and

2. The Seattle City Council seeks to maintain the right of elected officials to legislate on behalf of their citizens; and opposes any international agreement that limits this right by giving priority to investment rights; and

3. The Seattle City Council expresses its profound concerns with the draft MAI to the Washington State Congressional Delegation and the United States Trade Representative, supports the reservations proposed by the United States government, and supports ensuring any reservations become integral to the text and are not subject to standstill and/or rollback provisions, and respectfully requests to be advised and be a party in any further deliberations or actions regarding the MAI, or similar international agreements.

        Adopted by the City Council the _____ day of _______________, ,
and signed by me in open session in authentication of its adoption this _____ day of _______________, .

        ________________________________________
        President of the City Council

        ________________________________________
        City Clerk
(Seal)



PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release, April 13, 1999
Sally Soriano, WFTC  206-782-8292
Hon. Nick Licata, Seattle City


Council 206-684-8888


Seattle City Council Votes Against International Investment Pact

MAI is a threat to local government

Seattle --- On Monday, April 12, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously (8-0) on a resolution to oppose the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI). Seattle will host the World Trade Organization (WTO) Summit in November, 1999 and several countries have requested that MAI negotiations be put on the WTO agenda. Seattle joins the Metropolitan King County Council, the Snohomish County Council and the cities of Olympia and Tumwater in reacting strongly against these new trade and investment rules.

MAI policies would severely constrain government's ability to regulate corporate behavior.

For three years, 1995-98, the MAI was negotiated at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. After worldwide protests from both the public and elected officials, negotiations broke down. The MAI was then stalled but not dead.

On March 10, the Snohomish County Council voted to oppose the MAI 4-0-1 (with the 1 being an abstention). The Metropolitan King County Council voted unanimously (13-0) on a similar resolution, December 10. Last year, the cities of Olympia and Tumwater passed resolutions against the MAI.

Other organizations representing elected officials that have passed resolutions opposing the MAI are: the Western Governors' Association, the National Association of Counties, the Washington State Association of Counties, and the Washington Association of Cities.

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata said: "The MAI would limit lawmakers' ability to regulate corporations, while granting foreign investors new powers to challenge domestic laws and sue for damages in international tribunals."

"The MAI would effectively outlaw policies that protect local businesses, workers, the environment. It would also stop us from regulating foreign corporations operating in our community. Under the MAI, local government's ability to ensure corporate accountability is severely handcuffed," said City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Sally Soriano, coordinator of the Washington State Fair Trade Campaign, helped galvanize support for the anti-MAI resolution as part of a nationwide, grassroots effort to inform the public and decision-makers about the undemocratic nature of the proposed treaty. "The MAI--an agreement written by and for multinational corporations--is clearly at odds with local economic development policies. Cities and counties everywhere, like Seattle and King County, should become 'MAI-free zones' to let the WTO know there is a shrinking welcome mat, here in Seattle, to continue MAI negotiations," she said.

The British Columbia Parliament's Special Committee on the MAI recently stated: "The MAI is fundamentally flawed and should be discarded in favour of a fresh approach for future international negotiations." Last fall this committee heard from expert witnesses and is now holding public hearings across the province on this alarming international economic agreement.

The AFL-CIO, the Washington State Labor Council, the World Council of Churches, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Seattle Green Party, and the city councils of Houston, Oakland, Toronto, Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco, have all gone on record opposing the MAI and future international pacts that include MAI-like provisions.

 

More information on the MAI can be found at:
   
www.citizen.org/pctrade/MAI/maihome.html
www.westgov.org/wga/publicat/maiweb.htm
   
www.rtk.net/preamble
www.appletonlaw.com/MAI/MAI-municipal.html


Margrete Strand Rangnes
MAI Project Coordinator
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington DC, 20003 USA
mstrand@citizen.org
202-546 4996, ext. 306
202-547 7392 (fax)

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