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Guidelines For Multinationals Agreed

Press Release

28 June 2000


The Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton, today welcomed the adoption of updated Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, saying they reflect the priorities and concerns of the coalition government, particularly in the areas of labour standards and the environment.

Ministers from the OECD and three non-OECD countries - Argentina, Brazil and Chile - have endorsed an updated version of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Mr Sutton said multinational enterprises often had a positive influence in the world economy, but it is important that governments sent a clear message on what they considered appropriate corporate conduct.

?This work represents a part of the response to public concerns about globalisation.?

The Guidelines, first developed in 1976 and reviewed regularly, provide a set of voluntary principles and standards covering a range of areas. They aim to encourage responsible business conduct by enterprises wherever they operate.

The Guidelines endorsed this week are the product of a period of intense negotiations and changes to the text have been significant. Inclusion of recommendations on child and forced labour means that all internationally recognised core labour standards are now covered by the Guidelines. The environment chapter has been significantly updated and new chapters on consumer interests and combating bribery have been added. A new recommendation on human rights has also been introduced.

The revised Guidelines have been developed involving extensive consultation with the business community, labour representatives and non-governmental organisations.

Mr Sutton said he was delighted the changes sought by New Zealand were reflected in the final document.

"The Government takes these new obligations very seriously, officials can now start work on promoting the Guidelines: disseminating information about them, resolving any issues which may arise in relation to their use and reporting back to the OECD," Mr Sutton said.

Mr Sutton, currently in Geneva, returns to New Zealand on Sunday.


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