Letter: Gung-ho trading

Sir: Diane Coyle (Business, 22 January) tries to convince us that the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) is a benign instrument. Such wishful support for this initiative by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), together with tacit support for the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) gung-ho assault on the real cultural concerns of sovereign governments and, more importantly, those of their peoples, takes us back a hundred years.

Sure, let's open up markets and, by so doing, give indigenous peoples a conduit to the global forum. But where do worker's rights, obligations to child health and education, diligent use of fertilisers and pesticides and other broadly-supported UN initiatives fit in here? Silence.

The refusal of the WTO to countenance linking into the UN system and the determination of the OECD to implement its programmes despite the complaints of non-members makes the article partial, to say the least.


London SW6