Analytical Note, May 2016

Discussions in the Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment (2001-2003)

This Note reviews Members’ submissions in the Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment (WGTI) between 2001 – 2003.

The Singapore Ministerial Declaration established the WGTI to examine the relationship between trade and investment. Subsequently, the Doha Ministerial Declaration tasked the WGTI to focus on the clarification of seven elements of a possible future multilateral investment agreement, as well as some other issues: (i) scope and definition; (ii) transparency; (iii) non-discrimination; (iv) modalities for pre-establishment commitments based on a GATS-type, positive list approach; (v) development provisions; (vi) exceptions and balance-of-payments safeguards; and (vii) consultation and the settlement of disputes between members.

Around 60 submissions to the WGTI were made during 2002 and 2003. Around 10% came from developing countries whereas 60% from OECD or developed countries (and 20% from WTO secretariat). Discussions were mainly driven by OECD countries.

The WGTI discussions show that there were large divergences between WTO members, particularly between developed and developing countries. Even though the discussions took place 15 years ago, the process of reforming Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) now underway in some major developing countries suggest that such differences on investment continue. At the same time, the EU and US today appear to take similar positions in their investment treaties as the positions they had taken in the WGTI.

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