The increase in global foreign direct investment is the result of competitive pressure, new technologies, privatization of state-owned enterprises and a more open policy towards investment in many countries. The Multilateral Investment Agreement (MIA) 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. The number of bilateral investment agreements increased rapidly during the 1990s. countries and investors are inspired by increased security regulation, security and mobility of their investments, after it became clear that the Uruguay Round Trade Investment Measures (TRIMS) Agreement, the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (ADPIC) Agreement and the General Trade in Services Agreement (GATS) only took into account some of the investment-related concerns and that investors were not sufficient security and strong controls by multinationals.  In addition to these instruments, the World Bank adopted guidelines in 1992 for the treatment of foreign direct investment.  In 1994, the Energy Charter Treaty set an example of a multilateral investment agreement, but limited to the energy sector.
The limit values proposed by the MAI could also undermine the ability of policy makers to address inequalities between developed and developing countries and between social groups within nations. Many U.S. laws, which treat small and minority businesses favourably and direct investment in poor areas, would be contrary to the conditions proposed by the MAI. The proposed MAI could circumvent all the limited reservations and exceptions introduced in other international agreements to address sovereignty issues in areas such as public health and resource preservation.