Majority of WTO members sign investment deal for development

More than 120 WTO member states have finalised an agreement that aims to facilitate investment in developing countries by improving transparency and clearing bureaucratic hurdles, the global trade body said Sunday.

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The Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement, signed by 75 percent of the World Trade Organization’s members, would require full consensus before it could be formally incorporated, as per the body’s rules.

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Despite broad backing, some members may still oppose its integration into the WTO, including India, which typically objects to agreements that do not cover all countries.

The deal was made public on the WTO’s website hours before the trade body kicked off its 13th ministerial conference in Abu Dhabi.

The deal aims to facilitate “the flow of foreign direct investment… particularly to developing and least-developed” countries with the aim of fostering sustainable development, according to the text.

To achieve this, participating countries have agreed “to improve the transparency of measures, streamline administrative procedures, adopt other investment facilitation measures and promote international cooperation.”

WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called it a “pioneering agreement that promises to help its signatories attract the foreign direct investment they want to drive growth.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Union’s trade chief, said “it constitutes an opportunity for developing and least-developed countries to boost their capacity to attract more investment.”

The signatories have issued a submission asking for it to be incorporated into the WTO during the Abu Dhabi meeting, which is scheduled to last until February 29.

Its incorporation would allow other member states to join on a voluntary basis.

“We call on all WTO Members to support its incorporation into the WTO system at MC13,” said China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.


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