NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Investment negotiators drawn from developing countries met in
Nairobi on Wednesday for an annual forum meant to increase their
negotiation skills at a time when countries are engaged in
multilateral trade negotiations to create regional-based free trade
The negotiators said skills upgrade will also enable them to protect
their countries from investors who take advantage of poorly done
“We want to make sure that our negotiators are able to take care of
national interests when negotiating investment or multilateral
deals,” said Chris Kiptoo, the Principal Secretary for the State
Department of Trade in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and
Co-operatives in Kenya.
“We have seen an upsurge of cases where investors are filing
expensive suits against governments because of various policy
changes like environmental protection which they believe may
disadvantage them,” said Kiptoo who is also Kenya’s lead trade
“We must therefore make sure that our negotiators are keen at the
negotiation stage because when such litigation is filed at the
international level, sometimes the local laws do not count,” he
Kiptoo said such litigations, if won by the other party have the
capacity to drain public resources through compensation, diverting
money that could have been used for social benefit.
He said exchanges during the previous ten forums on trade
negotiations had contributed to Kenya’s review of its trade policy
and setting up of a modern investment treaty to ensure that
investment, bilateral and multilateral agreements signed with the
government are of international standards.
He said Kenya has also set up the National Trade Negotiation
Council, a think-tank that is responsible for undertaking all of the
country’s trade and investment negotiations.
Delegates attending the three-day 11th Annual Forum of
Developing Country Investment Negotiators said the forum is helping
ensure that developing countries are able to attract responsible
investment while safeguarding their legitimate policy space.
The forum, they said, will help developing countries adopt a common
agenda on some of the multilateral trade deals.
“Overall, these forums will increase the negotiating capacity of the
emerging economies,” said Vincente Yu, the Executive Director of
South Centre, an intergovernmental body which helps developing
countries in capacity building on various issues like trade
It also emerged that many developing countries are now cancelling or
renegotiating investment treaties and multilateral trade agreements
because they were done when their negotiators had little negotiating
capacity, according to Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder,head of
Economic Law & Policy at the International Institute of Sustainable
“Many countries (are) now involved in multilateral negotiations to
establish regionally based trading blocs. The pressure is on the
negotiators to have the requisite skills,” said Bernasconi.