The Emperor’s New Clothes

Why rich countries want a WTO investment agreement

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Published: 1 April 2003

Despite an overcrowded agenda and the lack of progress on matters crucial to development, rich countries, especially members of the European Union, are pushing for the launch of investment negotiations at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun in September 2003. When properly regulated, foreign investment can contribute to sustainable development. However, the proposed WTO agreement on investment will establish rules that developing countries do not need and cannot afford, enhancing investors’ ‘rights’ while undermining governments’ capacity to pursue pro-development policies. This is why Oxfam calls on WTO members to reject the launch of investment negotiations in Cancun.