The UK government seems to have a surprisingly complacent approach to the WTO. When the MAI collapsed, Trade Minister Brian Wilson seems to have understood some of the concerns expressed. He called for all new negotiations to begin with a “blank paper” based on objectives that “fully address social and environmental concerns.” Despite these commitments, the government insists that the WTO should cover foreign investment according to the same principles. This is a driving force behind the EU`s investment proposal. It thus ignores widespread opposition to the MAI and mounting evidence of the WTO`s abhorrent failings.  The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was a draft agreement negotiated between 1995 and 1998 under secret negotiation between members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  It attempted to create a new body of universal investment laws that would give companies unconditional rights to participate in financial transactions around the world, regardless of national laws and civil rights. The project gave companies the right to sue governments when national health, labour or environmental laws threatened their interests. When his project was published in 1997, it was widely criticized by civil society groups and developing countries, in part because of the possibility that the agreement would make it more difficult to regulate foreign investors. After critics of the treaty waged an intense global campaign against the MAI, the host country, France, announced in October 1998 that it would not support the agreement, which effectively prevented it from being adopted because of the OECD`s consensual procedures. France`s withdrawal followed a report by French MEP Catherine Lalumiére on the negotiations. After receiving this report, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin addressed the National Assembly on 10 October 1998 and announced his decision to withdraw.
He said that the light report had highlighted a number of fundamental problems with the agreement, including issues of national sovereignty. Ms. Lalumiére had also concluded that so many reservations were included in the agreement that any value to French investors was limited.