Structured discussions on investment facilitation for development move into negotiating mode
Participants in the structured discussions on investment facilitation for development began on 25 September 2020 formal negotiations on a multilateral agreement on this issue, with a view to achieving a concrete outcome by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled for next year.
At the first in a series of meetings of this joint initiative scheduled until the end of the year, participating members started to work on concrete drafting proposals for specific provisions based on the “informal consolidated text” that serves as a basis for the negotiations.
Four two-day meetings are foreseen in the period September-December 2020, with the possibility of adding inter-sessional meetings as needed. The coordinator of the structured discussions, Mathias Francke, Ambassador-designate of Chile, encouraged members who have not yet done so to share as soon as possible their specific text proposals, which will be incorporated in further revisions of the informal consolidated text. He also called on members to work among themselves to advance and facilitate convergence.
“Discussions in the last months have allowed us to make significant progress on the substance, allowing greater understanding of members' positions on the different issues, including in a number of instances on possible concrete language,” said Ambassador Francke.
“Our objective for this new and crucial stage of the structured discussions is clear: to advance as much as possible on the drafting of the specific provisions of the future multilateral framework on investment facilitation for development with the aim of making meaningful progress towards the end of the year, keeping in mind our overall objective of achieving a concrete outcome at MC12,” he added.
Member-driven, transparent, inclusive and open to all WTO members, this joint initiative currently has the participation of 105 members, up from the 70 that supported the pdf Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development (59 KB) launched at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires.
In a second pdf Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development (66 KB) issued on 22 November 2019, 98 members expressed support for the 2017 joint ministerial statement. They committed to intensify work to further develop the framework for facilitating foreign direct investment, and to work towards a concrete outcome on Investment Facilitation for Development at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12). These members also agreed to continue their outreach efforts towards WTO members, especially developing and least-developed members, to ensure that the future framework helps to address their investment facilitation priorities and needs.
In the context of the WTO, investment facilitation means the setting up of a more transparent, efficient and investment-friendly business climate by making it easier for domestic and foreign investors to invest, conduct their day-to-day business and expand their existing investments.
The focus on investment facilitation comes with the recognition that in today’s integrated global economy, expanding investment flows, like trade flows, depend on simplifying, speeding up and coordinating processes. Indeed, in many cases, the bottlenecks, inefficiencies and uncertainties that investment facilitation seeks to address arise from unnecessary red tape, bureaucratic overlap or out-of-date procedures which can become costly impediments to investment.
8-9 October 2020
9-10 November 2020
7-8 December 2020