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Tuesday, 23 March 1999
Page: 3068

Senator Brown asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 8 March 1999:

(1) With reference to the article in the Financial Review of Tuesday, 3 November 1998, under the headline `Multilateral Investment Pact on Ice', in which the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Kemp) is quoted as stating the Government's hope for reviving the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) eventually, saying that Australian Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) negotiators in Paris have sought to require that the agreement should be pared back to its core elements: what are the `core elements' the Government seeks to retain.

(2) With reference to a press release of the OECD's `International Investment Rules' dated 3 November 1998, in which it was confirmed that negotiations on the MAI were no longer taking place, but that OECD officials agreed on the importance of multi-disciplinary work on the desirability of establishing international rules for investment: what criteria would the Government seek to attach to Senator Kemp's stated intention to `carefully consider' the Government's approach to any further agreement on international investment rules.

Senator Kemp (Assistant Treasurer) —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The core elements are National Treatment; Most Favoured Nation Treatment; Investment Protection; and Dispute Settlement.

(2) The Government has indicated for some time that it had a number of serious concerns with the draft text of the MAI as it stood. The Government will not sign any agreement on international investment rules unless it is demonstrably in Australia's interest to do so. In that regard, any future negotiation would be subject to the continued scrutiny of established treaty making processes.