Investment negotiations at WTO

A new international agreement on investment, referred to as “the multilateral framework on investment facilitation”, is being intensively negotiated among 106 countries at the WTO. It is promoted as important for facilitating investments in different countries for development purposes. Its real impacts would entrench corporate power, given foreign corporations an enforceable right to lobby and pressure host states, and cripple the ability of states to leverage investment for sustainable development.

This multilateral investment agreement on “investment facilitation” could open the door for further draconian investment rules similar to the failed 1990s Multilateral Investment Agreement (MAI).

These impacts are especially serious for the Global South. Regulatory frameworks are still at an emerging stage in developing countries. The proposed WTO rules will jeopardize their policy space to devise and experiment with policies that best suit their specific developmental needs.

Some WTO Members are negotiating rules on facilitating investment:

Statements and Analysis from Civil Society

Open letter from civil society to the Chair of the MC13 opposing WTO plurilateral on investment facilitation: Letter, Press release. (29 February 2024)

WTO-illegal Investment Facilitation rejected at MC13. (28 February 2024)

Important breaking news: Statement being circulated on behalf of the delegations of South Africa and India. (28 February 2024)

WTO D-G abuses authority to try to get WTO-illegal Investment Facilitation adopted at MC13. (27 February 2024)

Stop the illegitimate anti-development Investment Facilitation Agreement now! (25 Feb 2024)

Comments on the investment facilitation framework: Are there real benefits to bringing it under the umbrella of the WTO? (Kinda Mohamadieh, TWN, 21 February 2024)

Commentary on the investment facilitation text. (Kinda Mohamadieh, TWN, 21 February 2024)

Making Sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (II), by Avaljit Singh. (20 February 2024)

Making Sense of Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (I), by Avaljit Singh. (28 November 2023)

The illegitimacy of Joint Statement Initiatives and their systemic implications for the WTO, by Jane Kelsey. Journal of International Economic Law, Volume 25, Issue 1. (March 2022)

The plurilateral Joint-Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation: Its developmental promise hangs in thin air: English, Spanish. (Kinda Mohamadieh, 20 November 2021)

Investment Facilitation Joint Statement Initiative: No home in the WTO, by Jane Kelsey. (September 2021)

UNCITRAL fiddles while countries burn, by Jane Kelsey and Kinda Mohamadieh. (September 2021)

The Investment Facilitation Framework & Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Treatment by Peter Lunenborg. (September 2021)

Why the Joint Statement Initiatives lack legal legitimacy in the WTO, by Law Professor Jane Kelsey, a rebuttal to a previous document by Hamid Mamdouh, “Plurilateral Negotiations and Outcomes in the WTO.” Resumen en español. (22 June 2021)

Scope of an investment facilitation framework: Implications for its developmental claim, Kinda Mohamadieh. (July 2020)

Plurilateral initiatives and their interaction with WTO rules (TWN Policy Brief, 2020)

Investment facilitation – Another plurilateral initiative at the WTO and its potential implications. (TWN, October 2019)

Rebuttal to “The WTO Investment Facilitation Initiative: Why It Matters” – background note: Investment Facilitation for Development: Opening the doors of the WTO for hard rules on investment. (December 2017)

Reflections on the Discussion of Investment Facilitation. (South Centre, March 2017)

Global Civil Society letter on the Nairobi Ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO). (9 December 2015)

Global Civil Society letter to UNCTAD Secretary General on Investment Issues: English, Spanish. (15 October 2014)

Updates & Articles on the Negotiations

WTO: IFD initiative “illegal” and not part of MC13 agenda, says India, by D. Ravi Kanth. (19 December 2023)

WTO: Investment Facilitation surfaces as a plurilateral deal at GC, by D. Ravi Kanth. (12 December 2023)

WTO: JSIs’ “hidden” goals aimed to mislead developing countries?, by D. Ravi Kanth. (21 November 2023)

Trade: Draft IFD agreement may violate WTO’s Marrakesh Agreement, by D. Ravi Kanth. (4 July 2023)

Is WTO's MC12 paving the way for new trade negotiations?, by D. Ravi Kanth. (28 October 2021)

New ISDS reform report - UNCITRAL Fiddles While Countries Burn. (17 September 2021)

New TWN briefing paper: South’s concerns over ISDS reform process need to be addressed, by Kanaga Raja. (6 August 2021)

JSIs lack legal status, fragments WTO, by D. Ravi Kanth. (10 May 2021)

WTO DG acknowledges her "mistake" on JSIs, by D. Ravi Kanth. (5 May 2021)

UNCTAD Paper:  Reforming international trading system for recovery, resilience & inclusive development. (30 April 2021)

Proponents fail to respond to challenge over legal status of JSIs, by D. Ravi Kanth. (4 March 2021)

Members sharply divided on WTO reform, fisheries subsidies & JSIs, by D. Ravi Kanth. (1 March 2021)

JSIs will erode WTO's multilateral rules-based architecture, by D. Ravi Kanth. (24 February 2021)

Investor-State Dispute Settlement "reform" discussions at UNCITRAL, by Kinda Mohamadieh. (31 January 2020)

Ministers declare intent to finalise outcome on IF at MC12, by D. Ravi Kanth. (14 November 2019)

WTO investment facilitation & technical assistance activities deferred, by D. Ravi Kanth. (30 July 2018)

Brazil seeks 'structured discussions' on investment facilitation, by D. Ravi Kanth. (7 February 2018)

Investment facilitation cannot now be discussed formally at WTO, by Kanaga Raja. (24 May 2017)

Investment Facilitation and links to China's OBOR,by Chakravarthi Raghavan. (24 May 2017)

India and others ensure IF can't be discussed formally at WTO, by D. Ravi Kanth. (22 May 2017)

Investment Facilitation proposals and India's objections, by Chakravarthi Raghavan. (22 May 2017)

India blocks GC over agenda item on Investment Facilitation, by D. Ravi Kanth. (12 May 2017)

US, India-South Africa nix move for Investment Facilitation accord, by D. Ravi Kanth. (12 May 2017)

US opposed to investment facilitation discussions at G20, by D. Ravi Kanth. (18 April 2017)

Large majority of South nations opposed to 'investment facilitation', by D. Ravi Kanth. (14 April 2017)

MAI at WTO under new avatar of MIF?, by D. Ravi Kanth. (4 April 2017)

Some reflections on ‘investment facilitation', by Kanaga Raja. (16 March 2017)

ICs intensify efforts on e-commerce negotiations at MC11, by D. Ravi Kanth. (14 March 2017)

Reflections on the Discussion of Investment Facilitation. (13 March 2017)

WTO Members voice their views on key issues for MC11, by Kanaga Raja. (6 March 2017)

WTO secretariat pushing e-commerce and investment for G20 meet, by D. Ravi Kanth. (3 March 2017)

CSOs urge WTO DG to advance development mandate, not 'new issues', by Kanaga Raja. (16 February 2017)

Investment accords - conceptual & procedural contentions, by Andrew Cornford. (23 September 2015)

International trade, investment accords, increasing controversies, by Andrew Cornford. (23 September 2015)

Statement and input for FfD discussions on trade and investment agreements. (19 December 2014)

Global Civil Society letter to UNCTAD Secretary General on Investment Issues: English, Spanish (15 Oct 2014)

Latin American states form alliance to tackle investment treaties, by Meena Raman. (30 April 2013)

United Nations: International investment disputes on the rise, by Kanaga Raja. (23 April 2013)

BITs, FTAs and damaging effects of their investment chapters, by Meena Raman. (8 October 2012)

BITs 'not decisive in attracting investment', says South Africa, by Meena Raman. (8 October 2012)

Human rights impact of trade and investment pacts, by Kanaga Raja. (27 February 2012)

Leading academics voice concerns over investment treaties, by Sanya Smith. (3 September 2010)

NGOs call on governments to drop investment issue at Cancun. (30 March 2003)

Previous work

OWINFS has campaigned against including investment rules in the WTO since they were first proposed in Singapore in 1997. For more on this work, please, see here.