INVESTMENT FACILITATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
Ambassador Mathias Francke opened the meeting: “Last year we made significant progress on the negotiating text, and the resulting December 2021 Joint Statement marked an important milestone in the negotiations. This year, I encourage you to keep up the positive momentum — as well as the results-oriented and eminently cooperative spirit in which these negotiations have been conducted so far, aiming to concluding the text negotiations by the end of this year.”
To this end, Ambassador Francke stressed that to achieve the goals set in the Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development (WT/L/1130), and particularly the target to finish the text negotiations by 2022, members have to organize and plan their work for the coming months efficiently and effectively.
He noted the key issues that need to be addressed as a priority in the coming months, notably scope (including key definitions), most-favoured nation (MFN)/non-discrimination, special and differential treatment and preparatory work on investment facilitation “needs assessments”.
“We need to work on these issues — both with a sense of urgency and aiming at finding compromise solutions — to allow us to meet the target date that we, ourselves, have set for the conclusion of the text negotiations. Some of these issues will likely require some participants to sit down together to find a possible way forward. If needed, I will be available to facilitate those conversations — whereby any such possible way forward will be brought back to the plenary for discussion,” said Ambassador Francke.
Participants discussed MFN/non-discrimination, special and differential treatment provisions and needs assessments, as well as the definition of 'investor of another Member'. Several participants highlighted the importance of starting work on needs assessment to support the ongoing process of negotiations, future implementation and outreach efforts.
Following the postponement of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) amid new coronavirus variant concerns, participating members in this joint initiative held on 30 November 2021 a meeting chaired by Rodrigo Yáñez, Chile’s Vice-minister of Trade. Chile has steered the negotiations since their launch in September 2020, with Ambassador Francke in the role of coordinator.
At that meeting, held at Ambassadors/Heads of Delegations level, participants welcomed the remarkable progress achieved in developing a pro-multilateral Agreement on IFD, as reflected in the so-called “Easter Text” as well as the increased interest of new members to join the initiative. They also supported endorsing the Joint Statement in order to maintain the momentum achieved in the run-up to MC12.
Work in the months ahead will be guided by the Joint Statement, which was circulated to all WTO delegations on 10 December 2021. Co-sponsored by over 110 members, the document 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.
Members agreed on a proposed schedule of IFD meetings for the first half of 2022, as reflected in document INF/IFD/W/41. The next negotiating meeting will take place on 14-15 February. The intention of the coordinator is to hold a dedicated session on “Investment Facilitation Needs Assessments”, with the participation of international organizations active in the implementation of investment facilitation measures, and to have a discussion on the future work programme.