India, SA block investment deal at WTO talks

ABU DHABI-India and South Africa have filed a formal objection against an investment agreement at a World Trade Organisation meeting in Abu Dhabi, blocking its adoption, a document showed and delegates confirmed on Wednesday.

The Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement, agreed by some 125 countries or about three-quarters of the WTO’s members, aims to simplify red tape, improve the investment environment and encourage foreign direct investment.

But according to WTO rules, any one of its 164 members can block a deal from being adopted by the body – a step which is necessary to ensure that countries are in compliance.

“We underscore that given the lack of exclusive consensus, this is not a matter for the…(meeting) agenda,” the document said. The Indian and South African delegations did not immediately comment publicly on the development.

Negotiations to set new global trade rules on a broad range of topics are due to wrap up on Thursday, although delegates said that little progress has so far been made, barring the formal accession of two new members to the body: East Timor and Comoros. A paragraph on climate change is confined to an annex of the draft package of deals since members cannot agree.

“It’s hard to tell if we are going to land something or if we are sleepwalking into failure,” said one trade delegate. – CNBC Africa

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