Thank you, Ambassador González,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and thank you for the kind invitation to speak to you all today.

I want to start by commending your efforts in advancing your Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.

And I want to acknowledge the leadership and efforts of your Coordinator –Ambassador González – who has played a pivotal role in driving these discussions forward.

Today's meeting is about looking back at what you have accomplished so far and reflecting on the way ahead.

I hope that this will be a useful exercise. From my discussions with Juan Carlos and other Ambassadors, I would like to highlight two key aspects of your initiative that I believe have been key to the progress achieved so far. 

First, I think you have succeeded in enhancing members' understanding of the growing interlinkage between trade and investment.

Investment is a catalyst for trade – and so a coherent approach to trade and investment policies is vital. It can help members diversify and expand their trade. This is, in turn, vital to promote economic growth and development – especially in developing and least-developed members.  

With this in mind, a look at the current trends gives some cause for concern.

Last year, global flows of foreign direct investment fell by 13 per cent, to 1.3 trillion dollars. This represents the lowest level since the global financial crisis and confirms the stagnation of international investment this decade.

This is very concerning.  Therefore, in order to harness the development benefits of trade and investment, including meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, it is vital to create a regulatory environment that is conducive to attracting and expanding investments.

Key elements here are the transparency and predictability of policies and regulations, and more efficient administrative procedures to deal with investments. These are precisely the core elements that you have been discussing all along.

And I understand that interest in these discussions has been growing. For example, from my exchanges with business leaders, it is clear that they are following your initiative closely and welcome the fact that WTO members are working to address these issues.

But the interest in your discussions is also much broader. This brings me to my second point – which is the widespread engagement in your discussions.

This initiative was launched by developing members, with numerous LDCs on board, and it has development as a core objective. However, developed members are also fully engaged and play an active role in the discussions.

There is a shared interest in adopting investment policies and practices that can make international investment easier. 

There may be different needs and approaches – but it is fair to say that all countries want to explore ways of facilitating investments as a means of promoting trade, job creation, economic growth and development.

A multilateral framework could provide further impetus and strengthen members' efforts in this regard. There are clear parallels here with the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which has clearly inspired your work.

Last time I was invited to address this group, you were about to start developing those elements through looking at concrete examples – and I understand that this exercise was met with a very strong response.

This practical, bottom-up approach has allowed you to find common ground, as well as to identify issues where your views may differ and where more reflection is needed.

This is real progress.

It is positive that today you'll be looking to take this work forward and begin to visualize in more detail what a framework for investment facilitation for development could look like, and how it could be applied in a multilateral context.

So it is essential that you remain open, transparent and inclusive. I urge you to keep reaching out to other members to broaden the debate and ensure that everyone's concerns are considered.

Your efforts can contribute to keeping this organization relevant and responsive to the global economy. That is a very important outcome in itself.

I encourage you to keep up the hard work.

MC12 is an obvious milestone. I understand that you are already looking to define some potential deliverables by that time. So I encourage you to seize the opportunity.

Thank you for listening. I wish you very fruitful discussions - and I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of your deliberations.



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