Bilateral Investment Treaties and the Possibility of a Multilateral Framework on Investment at the WTO: Are Poor Economies Caught in Between

Mosoti, Victor | January 1, 2005

The increased Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) flows in the past few years have strengthened the belief among many developing countries, especially African countries, that such FDI flows could help in reducing the resource, technology and foreign exchange gaps that constrain their economic development. As a result, many developing countries have beendiligently working to attract foreign investment, for which these countries give some of the highest returns; in the process, these countries make concessions that they would have found unthinkable in the past, when autarchic economic policies were prevalent. For example, due to the liberalization of capital accounts, a foreign investor in Kenya is guaranteed limitless capital and interest repatriation and dividends remittance as long as he can show that he has already paid the requisite taxes. Besides domestic law, provisions granting more or less similar opportunities for foreign investors have been included in the various Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BITs”) that have been signed by African countries over the years.