Opportunities and challenges of establishing an international framework on investment facilitation for development in the WTO

Expert Workshop

Ort / Datum
Geneva, 11.12.2019


Bertelsmann Foundation, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), International Trade Centre (ITC), World Economic Forum (WEF)

To harness the advantages of FDI, it is critical that governments have policies and regulations in place that help to attract and retain international investment and encourage its contribution to sustainable development. Investment facilitation initiatives have the potential to support domestic reform processes, enable the exchange of best practice examples of investment facilitation measures, increase international cooperation, and channel technical assistance to developing countries in need of external support to implement policy reforms.

In this context, the Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development adopted at the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2017 called for the start of “structured discussions with the aim of developing a multilateral framework on investment facilitation”. “Investment facilitation” refers, among other things, to a set of practical measures concerned with improving the transparency and predictability of investment frameworks, streamlining and speeding up administrative procedures and requirements related to foreign investors, and enhancing coordination and cooperation among stakeholders, such as host and home country governments, foreign investors and domestic corporations, as well as societal actors.

The Structured Discussions are conducted by a group of 90-plus WTO members. A number of countries, in particular a number of developing countries, do not participate in these discussions due to various types of constraints they face, including competing negotiation priorities, capacity constraints making it difficult closely to follow the discussions, as well as the financial and administrative costs of implementing investment facilitation measures.

The main aim of the expert workshop was to further the debate about an investment facilitation framework for development. It was held under the Chatham House Rule, to ensure open and frank discussions outside a formal negotiation setting. The one-day workshop was  held on 11 December 2019, the day before the 12-13 December meeting of the Structured Discussions. It brought together delegates, representatives of investment promotion agencies (IPAs), international investors, NGOs, academic experts and representatives of international organisations.

To discuss the challenges described above, the workshop consisted of three sessions:

  1. Identifying key concrete investment facilitation measures.
  2. The contribution of an investment facilitation framework to the promotion of sustainable FDI for sustainable development.
  3. Opportunities and challenges for developing countries negotiating and implementing an investment facilitation framework.

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