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Trade Policy Roundtable

Case for Extending the WTO System to Foreign Direct Investment (November 29, 2001)

Seminar at 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, November 29, 2001, at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld,  1333 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.

IN LAUNCHING the first WTO round on two tracks, the Doha ministerial has included “long-term cross-border investment” on the “study” track, with a decision to be made at the next WTO ministerial in 2003 on whether to proceed to negotiations.  The issue was pressed hard by the European Union and Japan, but developing countries resisted, while the United States went along.   Since the collapse of the MAI negotiations in the OECD, the case for WTO rules on investment has not got much attention, but aspects of investment are already covered by WTO agreements – the GATS, TRIPs and TRIMs.  Bilateral investment treaties may suit big business, but they make for needless complexity, do not induce sound policies and “predictability” and are not enough to attract small-firm investment in emerging market economies, which all need stable sources of capital.  So what is already in the WTO system, it is argued, needs to be codified and built upon.  

V.N. Balasubramanyam has taught at Lancaster University since 1969, following post-graduate studies in the United States, before which he was at the Indian Statistical Institute.  He has consulted with the World Bank, the ILO and the British Government on foreign investment and has held visiting positions at Harvard, Yale and ANU, Canberra.

The Cordell Hull Institute’s Trade Policy Roundtable is sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Arnold & Porter, O’Melveny & Myers, Steptoe & Johnson and Wilmer Cutler & Pickering