INVESTMENT FACILITATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
Ahead of the meeting, on 5-6 September, Ambassador Sofía Boza of Chile and Ambassador Jung Sung Park of the Republic of Korea held informal bilateral consultations with interested delegations to gather their thoughts on the state of play in the negotiations and key priorities for the coming months. Delegations reiterated their commitment to the objective of concluding the text negotiations by the end of this year. The importance of achieving a meaningful agreement was also stressed by delegations.
The proponents of text submissions that had gained little traction in the past were encouraged to engage directly with other participants to try and find a way forward. It was also suggested that Ambassadors Boza and Park promote higher-level engagement in Geneva to generate the political support needed for an IFD text conclusion.
Some delegations suggested having in-person meetings, in a hybrid format, with participation from capital experts towards the end of the year. They felt that this could help provide the necessary momentum to make further progress on the remaining sensitive issues.
Regarding the priority issues to be addressed in coming meetings, several participants pointed out the need to continue discussions on the scope of the future IFD Agreement, including on possible definitions of “investment”, “investor of another member” and “authorization” for an investment. Some members also indicated that a cross-cutting review of the Agreement would be needed at some point to ensure coherence and consistency among linked provisions.
The consultations also addressed the question of “investment facilitation needs assessments”. The development of the Self-Assessment Guide is underway and the process of conducting needs assessments will start later this year or the beginning of 2023. The co-coordinators asked participants, notably potential donors, to start reflecting on how to secure the necessary funding.
The co-coordinators presented to participants the advances of the seventh revision of the “Easter Text”, the document used as the basis for the negotiations incorporating the progress achieved since February this year. They underlined that the revision was prepared on a without-prejudice basis, with the aim of facilitating the negotiations and allowing participants to further visualize the contours of the future Agreement. They emphasized that the existing document “is not an agreed text” as “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
Delegations also heard from the facilitator of the Discussion Group on “Possible definitions” on the informal bilateral consultations held with delegations as well as from the co-coordinators on their consultations in different configurations on five provisions: final provisions, supplier-development programmes, home state measures, movement of business persons for investment purposes, and transfers and payments.
Lastly, participants heard the report of the WTO Secretariat on the progress made by the Working Group on Investment Facilitation Needs Assessment since the early July IFD plenary meeting.
The next round of IFD meetings will take place on 11-13 October 2022. Participants will hear a report of the facilitator of the Discussion Group on “Possible definitions” and will continue the discussion on the exclusions on government procurement and certain subsidies. They will also continue discussions on the definition of “authorization” and on “responsible business conduct”. Finally, they will discuss the recently revised text proposal on “home state measures” and will continue discussions on “supplier-development programmes”.
A proposed schedule of meetings for the period September-December 2022 was shared with delegations before the summer break. The schedule includes five IFD meeting sessions of three days each — with the first two days of each session devoted to consultations in different configurations and the third day reserved for an open-ended plenary meeting.
Member-driven, transparent, inclusive and open to all WTO members, the joint initiative on investment facilitation for development has more than 110 members (two-thirds of the WTO membership), up from the 70 members who endorsed the Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development launched at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires.
A second Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development was issued on 22 November 2019, with 98 members expressing support for the 2017 Joint Ministerial Statement.
A third Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development, endorsed by over 110 members, was issued on 10 December 2021. In this statement, the signatories stated their aim to conclude the text negotiations by the end of 2022 and their determination to further intensify outreach efforts.
The Joint Statement provides clear guidance for delegations in the negotiations and reiterates the importance of developing and least-developed country (LDC) members' participation in global investment flows as well as the need for technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the future IFD Agreement.
More information here.