Terminated investment treaties exceed new agreements, says UNCTAD
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, has disclosed that the Federal Government is working on the National Investment Policy to attract investors and investments into the country.
To this end, Adebayo said his Ministry is working with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), to develop a modern investment policy that would attract investors to Nigeria.
He said the country is looking forward to attracting “good national and local investments that are responsible and inclusive, balanced and sustainable.”
Speaking at the High-Level Preparatory Launch Event for the 14th Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, held virtually, the Minister explained that the policy is geared towards having inclusive investments that will help solve Nigeria’s two major problems – lack of jobs for the teeming youth, and sustainable investments.
This comes ahead of the 14th Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, scheduled for next year in Abuja, to prepare stakeholders to better represent their countries or regional grouping.
Adebayo noted that although the Federal Government wants investors in the economy to benefit from their investments, and also benefit Nigerians too.
“Investment governance emanates from three levels, and that is the investment contracts, legislative and international investment agreements. Investors must be aware that Nigeria is working on those levels to give them confidence to invest in Nigeria.
“The whole idea is to make sure that there’s no disconnect between what we have signed and the policy that we put together in Nigeria itself. We are actively involved in seeing to it that Nigeria benefits maximally from the agreements signed both on a regional level with ECOWAS, and at the continental level with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
“The reason why we have been modernising and renegotiating our old bilateral investment treaties is to have modernised ones. The whole idea is to bring Nigeria in line with modern international practices,” Adebayo added.
Commenting, the Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mrs. Yewande Sadiku, reiterated that international investment agreements must be made easy and comfortable for investors to invest, and inform them that countries actually want their investments.
She also urged that such agreements are balanced to reflect the national aspirations for sustainable development.
We are actively involved in seeing to it that Nigeria benefits maximally from the agreements signed both on a regional level with ECOWAS, and at the continental level with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
Also speaking, Leader of the International Investment Agreements (IIAs) at UNCTAD, Hamed El-Kady, disclosed that last year, the number of bilateral investment treaties that were terminated were twice the number of newly-concluded ones.
According to him, 42 bilateral investment treaties were terminated in 2020, while 21 new ones were concluded, noting that they had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, as the decline became noticeable from six years ago.
El-Kady said: “There’s a clear trend of decline in the number of bilateral investment treaties. But what we are witnessing in parallel is a new trend of the rise of very big regional investment treaties, and this is not only a trend in one region but really a global trend.
“So COVID-19 did not disrupt investment treaty reforms; it has allowed countries to reflect, and to think about the existing network of old-generation investment treaties that they have, and importantly, it has put a spotlight on new provisions that previously were just included but never really used.
“For example, the provisions on the protection of public health and how they interact with investment protection. Also, steps have been taken, for example, the political declaration on COVID-19 and the investors’ dispute settlement, which was an extremely important declaration at this time.
“I think investments are at a critical junction, as there is a mind-set shift that the objective is not only on investment protection but it’s much broader than that. Basically, it’s an instrument that regulates investments in a proactive manner and in a win-win situation that does not only provide the drive or protection in the face of problems, but also includes other aspects that ensure proactive attraction of investments.”