INVESTMENT FACILITATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
During the two-day plenary negotiating meeting, the first one after the summer break, the coordinator of the negotiations, Ambassador Mathias Francke of Chile, introduced the revised, cleaned-up version of the “Easter Text” — the negotiating document serving as the basis for the negotiations — which incorporates the progress achieved by participants since April 2021.
The revised version further streamlines Section II on “Transparency of investment measures”, Section III on “Streamlining and speeding up administrative procedures”, Section IV on “Focal points, domestic regulatory coherence and cross-border cooperation”, and Section VI on “Sustainable investment”. Participants also discussed texts prepared by the coordinator, among others, regarding the preamble, the overall scope and cross-border cooperation of the “Easter Text”, making useful headway on these texts.
Based on recent members' submissions, participants had a rich discussion on S&DT as well as technical assistance and capacity building for developing and LDC members, investment facilitation needs assessments, and proposals aimed at fostering sustainable investment. Participants emphasized the importance of S&DT and technical assistance, viewing the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) as a good starting point in this regard. In their discussions, they achieved good convergence on the “General Principles” guiding the two topics. Delegates also discussed a recently submitted proposal on the inclusion of a new provision on “home state obligations” aimed at recognizing the role of “home states” in facilitating outward investments.
Ambassador Francke shared an indicative list of “priority work areas”, based on topics identified by participants before the August break. The aim of the list is to help participants organize talks efficiently in the run-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), to be held on 30 November — 3 December 2021. The topics to be included in the agenda of each meeting are only indicative and may be reallocated or changed based on ongoing discussions and text proposals/contributions.
The coordinator stressed that the objective was to resolve remaining issues and achieve a text as clean as possible to be presented to ministers at MC12. Priority attention would be devoted to S&DT and technical assistance for capacity building, which are included on the agenda of every other meeting. Another key area of focus is the scope of application of the future Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement.
Ambassador Francke thanked all delegations for their high-level engagement and active participation. He encouraged discussion groups as well as proponents to continue working among themselves between meetings in order to advance the negotiations and facilitate convergence.
Delegates welcomed Peru as a new participant in the negotiations, bringing up to well over 100 the number of members engaged in this joint initiative.
The next meeting will take place on 23 September. Further negotiating meetings are scheduled (INF/IFD/W/29/Rev.2) for 4-5 October, 2-3 November and 24 November, with intersessional meetings, if needed, on 20-21 October and 16-17 November 2021.
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). Participating members also agreed to continue their outreach efforts towards non-participating WTO members, especially developing and least-developed members, to ensure that the future framework helps address their investment facilitation priorities and needs.