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Introduction

This database contains a large quantity of documents relating to the negotiations on a proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) between 1995 and 1998. This responds to the interest of stakeholders and civil society and is designed to help interested parties gain a full understanding of the history and substance of these negotiations.

In making these documents available, the OECD, at the request of Member governments, has retained the original dates and reference numbers of the documents but removed the names of individuals and countries. Under the OECD’s normal release procedures, these documents could not have entered the public domain for several more years. Enquiries concerning the positions of individual countries should be addressed directly to the countries concerned. The documents published are those which were available in the two official languages of the Organisation (English and French).

The MAI negotiations were launched by governments at the Annual Meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial level in May 1995. Participants were the governments of all OECD countries at that time -- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States – as well as the European Communities. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Hong-Kong, China participated as observers from an early stage. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Slovak Republic were later also invited as observers.

Under the terms of reference that governments set themselves, the MAI was to be a "free standing international treaty, open to all OECD Members and the European Communities, and to accession by non-OECD Member Countries". Its proposed objective was to "provide a broad multilateral framework to for international investment with high standards for the liberalisation of investment regimes and investment protection and with effective dispute settlement procedures". Many key documents were made available during the negotiating period, including successive drafts of the full MAI text and commentaries.

After intense negotiations during a three-year period until May 1998, and a six-month pause during which no official meetings of negotiators took place, negotiations ceased in December 1998.

The documents are organised according to an analytical table of contents. Documents refer to "Drafting Groups" and "Expert Groups" created to support the work by the "Negotiating Group" – the high-level body of the Member delegations which was mandated to conduct the negotiations. These Groups were the following:

  • Expert Group (no.1) on Selected Issues Concerning Dispute Settlement and Geographical Scope
  • Expert Group (no. 2) on the Treatment of Tax Measures in the MAI
  • Expert Group (no. 3) on Special Topics
  • Expert Group (no. 4) on Institutional Matters
  • Expert Group (no. 5) on Financial Services Matters
  • Drafting Group (no. 1) on Selected Topics Concerning Investment Protection
  • Drafting Group (no. 2) on Selected Topics Concerning Definition and Treatment of Investors and Investments (pre/post establishment)
  • Drafting Group (no. 3) on Definition, Treatment and Protection of Investor and Investment.

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