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The MAI means that local governments have to give foreign companies the right to invest in any sector of an economy, including environmentally sensitive areas. It gives foreign companies the right to sue governments if they are denied equal opportunity to exploit the country’s natural resources. For example, if a country allows domestic companies to mine or log, it has to let foreign mining and timber companies do the same. Thus, governments will not be able to ensure that any economic activity in the environment produces the maximum benefits for local residents, who have the most to lose from the overexploitation of their rights or natural resources.
(same link as above quote) The MAI prevents governments from screening out companies with poor environmental records.
The MAI prohibits any special scrutiny of foreign investors. For example, some timber companies have bad records of "cut and run" logging that is illegal in some countries. Governments should be able to screen out these companies to avoid the destruction of their natural resources.
(again, same link) It would pressure countries to reduce environmental protections as they compete to attract capital in the global economy. Environmental issues will also be in the hands of irresponsible international trade bureaucracies and private sectors instead of accountable national governments.
Secret negotiations took place from 1995 until 1997 when an OECD source leaked a copy of the draft agreement to a Canadian citizen group. The leak revealed that the MAI sought to establish a new body of universal investment laws that would guarantee corporations unconditional rights to buy, sell and do financial operations all over the world, without any regard for national laws and citizens’ rights. The draft gave corporations a right to sue governments if national health, labor or environment legislation threatened their interests.