JICA, WTO to cohost investment seminar in Geneva

Kyodo

The Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Trade Organization will cohost an investment seminar here in December for 21 English-speaking African nations, trade sources said Wednesday.

The seminar is part of Japan’s efforts to pave the way for WTO ministers to reach an agreement during their meeting in Cancun, Mexico, in September 2003 to launch multilateral negotiations for creating cross-border investment rules.

Japan has called for developing countries to support the establishment of multilateral investment rules under the WTO, but India and many developing nations are opposed to them.

They argue it would embroil them in WTO dispute-settlement cases that could force them to adopt drastic legal reforms.

As a way to help reduce the presence of the Japanese government at the seminar, Tokyo has decided to have JICA, a special corporation set up by the government to implement Japan’s aid for developing nations, co-host the event with the WTO, according to the sources.

At the seminar, experts and representatives from the African nations will discuss the relationship between trade and investment. A similar seminar is being considered for French-speaking African nations, the sources said.

The WTO ministers are scheduled to decide on “modalities” of negotiations for international investment rules at the fifth WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun.

A declaration issued at the end of the previous ministerial meeting in Qatar in November 2001 stopped short of calling for an immediate launch of talks on investment rules but called for starting them after the Cancun meeting “on a basis of a decision to be taken, by explicit consensus, at that session on modalities of negotiations.”