In the preparatory
process leading up to the Ministerial Conference, eight separate, and very similar,
proposals have been tabled by 29 WTO members recommending that a decision be taken by
Ministers in Seattle to begin negotiating a WTO agreement on foreign direct investment
These members have
made it clear that the agreement they are proposing to negotiate in the WTO bears no
relationship to the OECDs Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the WTO,
negotiations would start from a blank sheet of paper. Their proposals have attracted
support from a number of other WTO members, both developed and developing.
At the same time, some
other WTO members developed and developing have made it clear that they are
opposed to a negotiation on this subject in the WTO, at least for the time being. They
prefer to continue with the analysis and debate that was begun in 1997.
The key elements of
the proposals tabled so far are that:
- Negotiations would
cover FDI only;
- Development provisions
would be central to the framework of rules and disciplines, which otherwise would be based
on similar WTO principles such as transparency and non-discrimination;
- The ability of host
governments to regulate the activity of investors should be respected;
- Trade-distorting and
investment-distorting policies and practices should be addressed, through suitable
- Commitments on access
to investment opportunities in host countries should be negotiated bottom-up
(similar to the approach used in the General Agreement on Trade in Services); and
- WTO dispute settlement
rules should apply, but only to government-to-government disputes.
The question of how to
treat investors responsibilities, and investment protection, has also been placed on
the table for consideration in a negotiation, if one is launched.