By Eugene Davis
The Director General of the World Trade Organization, (WTO) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has encouraged Ghana to sign up and be part of the investment facilitation and the e-commerce negotiation teams which constitute the digital trade at the WTO, aimed at enhancing investments in the country.
According to her, the investment facilitation team has 113 WTO members [two-thirds], who negotiates an agreement on facilitating investment, getting rid of barriers to investment, whiles the latter has to do with determining the rules of e-commerce of digital trade for the world.
She made this proposal when she visited the country last month as part of a working tour to some selected African countries, saying “there are series of negotiations that are going on at the WTO, it is called plurilateral -not every member is involved but a large number of members can decide that this is a very important area and we want to get together to negotiate an agreement.
“There is one on Investment Facilitation that has 113 WTO members that is two-thirds of them, and negotiating an agreement on facilitating investment, meaning they want to do away with the barriers to investment and I know that many of our countries on the continent need more investments, so we would like Ghana to be part of it, to be involved in the investment facilitation negotiation because I think it will really help to drive investment into the country.
“There is a set of negotiations by 89 members, negotiating e-commerce agreement, we talked of digital trade, this is to determine what will be the rules of e-commerce of digital trade for the world, so l would like to encourage Ghana to join, I think it will be good if Ghana joins.
“Negotiations on removing all regulatory barriers with respect to delivering services, a service domestic regulation agreement that has already been completed but open to countries that want to join but I am particularly keen on investment facilitation and e-commerce negotiations agreement that Ghana joins.”
Launched in 2017 by a group of developing and least-developed WTO members, the Joint Initiative aims at developing a multilateral agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development that will improve the investment and business climate, and make it easier for investors in all sectors of the economy to invest, conduct their day-to-day business and expand their operations.
Facilitating greater participation of developing and least-developed members in global investment flows also constitutes a core objective of the future Agreement. The initiative does not cover market access, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement.
With regard to the e-commerce, a group of 71 WTO members agreed at the 11th Ministerial Conference in December 2017 to initiate exploratory work towards future WTO negotiations on trade-related aspects of e-commerce. In January 2019, 76 WTO members confirmed in a joint statement their intention to commence these negotiations. They agreed to “seek to achieve a high standard outcome that builds on existing WTO agreements and frameworks with the participation of as many WTO members as possible”.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.