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Investment Summary

Doha Development Round

Negotiations on trade-related investment policy will begin at the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Doha Development Round held in Mexico, September 2003. WTO members will focus on seven key issues: scope and definition, transparency, non-discrimination, modalities, current commitments, development provisions, exceptions and balance-of-payments safeguards, and dispute settlement. Members will also consider the particular needs of developing countries and pre-existing regional initiatives that have specific measures for investments.

Before Doha, multilateral agreements on investments targeted specific cases instead of making overarching rules and regulations. Out of a growing sense of the strong connection between investment and globalization, the WTO created working groups responsible for analyzing and exploring issues related to investment and trade. Through research and scrutiny of existing investment measures in regional initiatives, applicable WTO rules, and the effects on competition policy, trade, and global investment. While the groups are unable to create new rules or negotiate commitments, the WTO will use their detailed findings to guide the Doha round. In addition to the research of the working groups, members will follow any case-specific provisions already agreed upon in the Trade Related Investment Measures Agreement and the General Agreeement on Trade in Services.

Recent Events

The recent global trade climate has made it even more compelling that WTO members agree on encompassing, multilateral provisions for investments by the 2005 deadline for Doha negotiations. The surge in bilateral and regional initiatives are encouraging for WTO negotiations because most of them include measures for investments that can serve as a foundation for a multilateral agreement. Yet, at the same time, WTO members are concerned that variations in regional agreements will make it difficult to form a consensus. Thus, regional initiatives necessitate a set of global investment rules that will standardize trade agreements in the future.

An agreement on investments is also increasingly necessary as investments play a major role in trade topics currently in the spotlight of WTO negotiations. Intellectual property rights and trade in services both involve foreign investment and are key points of discussion in the Doha round. Because of the need to complete negotiations on those two issues by 2005, WTO members must also resolve the issue of investment measures. The working group's focus on analyzing investment and its relationship to competition policies and cross-border investment in services will be particularly pertinent to negotiations on intellectual property rights and trade in services. For more infomation, visit the issues summaries for Intellectual Property and Services.

Lastly, the emerging markets of developing countries have received considerable press in the beginning of 2003 for their surprisingly strong performances in the midst of tumultuous current events. For example, Singapore's market performed very well in comparison to the markets of industrialized nations. Many economists are optimistic that developing countries that are members of ASEAN will become active participants in global trade and investment. Thus, the WTO has more reason than ever to formally incorporate investment regulation into multilateral consensus on global trade liberalization.

Last updated January 2003