Flurry of investment treaties signed at UN forum on least developed countries

Flurry of investment treaties signed at UN forum on least developed countries

As the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries entered its final stretch, over two dozen bilateral investment treaties were signed today in a bid to boost foreign capital spending in the world's poorest nations.

Nine of the world's least developed countries (LDCs) -- all from French-speaking Africa -- participated in the treaty signings, which will pave the way for increased foreign investment and future economic cooperation

A total of 29 agreements were concluded today by ministers participating in a signing ceremony presided over by Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of the Conference, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the International Francophone Society and former UN Secretary-General. The effort was facilitated by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which is headed by Mr. Ricupero.

The treaties, which are designed to provide foreign investors with international standards of treatment and legal guarantees, were signed by Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Cambodia, Burundi, Chad, Mali, Guinea and Mauritania.

Addressing participants, Mr. Ricupero said the bilateral agreements created the necessary framework to allow a certain amount of security of investment. While stopping short of claiming that the ceremony constituted an enormous contribution, he pointed out that specific and partial measures such as those achieved today would lead to change in the LDC investment climates.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali said the LDCs had remained on the sidelines of a procession of worldwide investments over the last decade, but today's ceremony marked one way in which governments could show their willingness to open up to foreign investment.

The Conference, which wraps up on Sunday, is slated to adopt a programme of action aimed at overcoming the economic isolation and severe poverty currently faced by the world's 49 LDCs.