Putting a "human face" on capitalism
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which develops the principles behind the policies of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, was forced to shelve its Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) treaty. It tried to force the same MAI objectives onto the agenda at the WTO meeting in Seattle. But the big corporations failed in Seattle as well. "... it has to be admitted that the more delicate negotiations have largely been dominated by the principal trading partners of the `Quad' — the European Union, United States, Japan and Canada", says the OECD Director of Trade, Jean-Marie Metzger, but admits that the developing countries were frustrated by both the content and form of WTO decision making. He acknowledges that the transitional (former socialist countries) and developing countries now constitute "a very large majority", 113 out of 136 WTO member states, and suggests some "thought has to be given to the organisation of discussions". The OECD is looking at co-opting NGOs through partnerships with industry — "globalisation with a human face", as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called it. But the actual policies remain business as usual — full-steam ahead with privatisation and the destruction of the public sector, competition policy, financial deregulation, lifting of restrictions on foreign investment, "free" trade, removal of price controls, attacks on workers' rights and government cutbacks in social services and spending. The same corporate agenda, but with a smile! Sorry if it kills you.