INVESTMENT FACILITATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
Over two days of work, members continued the negotiations on the future agreement based on the latest version of the informal consolidated text, and discussed the new elements of the revised draft text circulated by the coordinator. The “firewall” provisions aimed at insulating the future agreement from international investment agreements were also addressed as well as the concept of “authorization”, which is relevant to different sections of the future agreement.
Participants discussed the establishment of a “business obstacle alert mechanism” to resolve problems faced by investors and addressed the issue of “responsible business conduct” based on text proposals from different members. In addition, the discussions addressed measures against corruption based on text proposals on this subject submitted by several members. It was highlighted that provisions to combat corruption would contribute to creating a transparent, efficient and predictable environment for facilitating foreign direct investment, and thus contribute to sustainable investment and development.
Moreover, participants engaged in a discussion on a revised proposal on domestic supplier databases, with proposals on general exceptions, security exceptions and financial exceptions also discussed. The coordinator will prepare a revised text taking into consideration members' written proposals and detailed discussions at the meeting.
The discussion of the revised draft text focused on three newly added provisions regarding the single information portal, authorization fees applying to financial services, and focal points. On the “firewall” provisions, participants worked on the basis of the text contribution of the “Discussion group on scope”. Lastly, participants engaged in discussion on the concept of “authorization” based on a series of guiding questions.
The coordinator reported that since the last meeting in February he had met with several WTO group coordinators and individual delegations and participated in events organised by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the World Economic Forum and the German Development Institute. The objective of these outreach efforts was to better understand how to increase the participation of some members in the negotiations as well as to ensure broader participation.
The coordinator informed participants about the creation of a “small group” on the facilitation of the entry and temporary stay of business persons for investment purposes, which will be facilitated by Guatemala. This group will follow the parameters laid down in the work plan for these groups, namely it will be open to all interested members and will report regularly to the plenary.
Finally, the coordinator expressed his wish to organize on the margins of the next plenary meeting on 19-20 April a debriefing session for relevant international organizations working in the field of investment facilitation. The idea is to invite the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the World Bank, ITC, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Monetary Fund as well as regional organizations such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation which have asked to be invited to this process.
Member-driven, transparent, inclusive and open to all WTO members, this joint initiative currently has the participation of over 100 members, up from the 70 that supported the Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development launched at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires.
In a second Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development issued on 22 November 2019, 98 members expressed support for the 2017 joint ministerial statement. They committed to intensifying 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 address their investment facilitation priorities and needs.