The Commonwealth educates Cameroonian authorities on investment attraction

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Cameroon (Commonwealth Union)_ The Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Institute for Investment Treaties conducted a workshop to educate Cameroonian government officials on how to attract foreign funds through effective investment agreements and better negotiations. The workshop, which took place in Yaoundé, was a crucial opportunity for top legal affairs authorities from different government agencies to enhance their knowledge of bilateral investment treaties and the measures required to prevent their negative effects, including litigation.

The negotiation of bilateral investment agreements is a matter of policy for emerging nations. The majority of such agreements are signed between capital-exporting rich nations and capital-importing developing nations. However, despite their favorable effects, bilateral investment treaty clauses can place restrictions on host nations. For example, investors may sue governments when national policy affects their interests. These investor-state litigation are frequently unpredictable and can be quite costly to taxpayers.

During the workshop launch, Chinmoun Oumar, Permanent Secretary of Cameroon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lauded the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Institute for Investment Treaties for sponsoring the timely training. He reminded the attendees that Cameroon was participating in a number of current investment facilitation agreements, but lacked the necessary competence to effectively engage with its international partners. “The workshop would allow Cameroon to build a formidable team of legal experts who could contribute to the ongoing and future negotiations,” Oumar said.

Opeyemi Abebe, Head of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Trade Competitiveness Section, delivered his speech during the workshop. “This workshop will enable Cameroonian officials to better promote and protect their national economic and development interests. We hope officials will now have a greater awareness of the implications of bilateral investment treaties for national policy and how to mitigate them, ensuring that foreign investment flows contribute to their country’s development objectives,” he said.

The workshop covered a series of plenary sessions and best practices to assist Cameroonian authorities in reassessing the requirements they should include in future investment agreements and if current treaties should be reformed in accordance with national interests. Participants also reviewed investor-state dispute settlement methods and a reform agenda for Cameroon’s investment treaties with a special focus on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The training program was conducted at the request of Cameroon’s Ministry of Mines, Industry, and Technological Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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