The significant milestone in WTO history of finalization of the IFD Agreement was marked at a ministerial event held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC) on the eve of the Ministerial Conference. The text of the Agreement was made available to the public in the three WTO official languages: English, French and Spanish.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the importance of the achievement and said: “In the space of six years, you have moved from preparatory work to a pioneering Agreement that promises to help its signatories attract the foreign direct investment they want to drive growth, productivity gains, job creation, and integration into global supply chains." She also emphasized that the IFD Agreement "will contribute to making the global economy more resilient and inclusive.”

As the co-coordinators of the successful negotiations, the Vice-Minister of Trade of Chile Claudia Sanhueza and the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Korea Inkyo Cheong made opening remarks at the ministerial event, highlighting that the IFD Agreement shows the WTO can deliver for global trade and development and address current economic challenges by facilitating investment flows, a key driver of economic growth and sustainable development.

Ms. Sanhueza said: “By bolstering the capacity to attract, retain, and amplify foreign direct investment, the IFD Agreement becomes an indispensable catalyst for sustainable development.” She added:  “Once implemented, the IFD Agreement is expected to foster significant economic growth and welfare in developing and LDC members and extend its benefits even to non-participants.”

Minister Cheong said: “When some have questions on WTO’s response to the current poly-crisis, we, the 123 co-sponsors, answer with the IFD Agreement.” He added: “The history we are making together today will mark the new beginning from tomorrow. I believe that, together, we will get it done.”

MC13 Chair, H.E. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said that the finalization of the IFD Agreement is the result of more than six years of work, dedication and vision of more than 120 members. “This agreement is proof of the power of collaboration and compromise and the shared vision of an open and rule-based trade,” he said.

Participating members took the floor to stress that the IFD Agreement incorporated in the WTO would create clear and consistent global benchmarks for investment facilitation, reducing regulatory uncertainty and making it easier for investors to invest. It would anchor their domestic reforms in shared international commitments, thereby sending a strong signal to investors that a host economy is committed to reforming its investment climate. The Agreement explicitly excludes market access, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement.

The IFD participants also underlined that, once incorporated in the WTO, the IFD Agreement will allow developing and least-developed country (LDC) members to receive the technical assistance and capacity-building support they need to implement it.

Participants are proposing to add the Agreement to Annex 4 of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. While the IFD Agreement would be a plurilateral agreement (binding only on those members that accept it), it is open for all WTO members to join. Participants stressed that incorporation of the IFD Agreement into the WTO is critical for the Agreement to deliver its benefits, notably for developing and LDC members, who are in the greatest need of more sustainable investment flows. An IFD Agreement in the WTO will also serve as a key catalyst for international support for national and regional investment facilitation efforts.

Article X.9 of the WTO Agreement provides that, upon the request of the members parties to the plurilateral agreement, the Ministerial Conference may decide exclusively by consensus to add the agreement to Annex 4. Participants emphasized that they look forward to discussing their request with all WTO members in an open, inclusive and transparent manner during MC13 with a view to achieving their common aspiration of incorporating the IFD Agreement into the WTO as soon as possible.

Held in an open, transparent and inclusive manner, the IFD text-based negotiations were launched in September 2020, building on over three years of preparatory work since a group of 70 WTO members called in December 2017 at MC11 in Buenos Aires for starting “structured discussions” aimed at developing a global framework on investment facilitation for development. 

More on the Investment Facilitation for Development Initiative.

Quotes from ministers

“The IFD Agreement is paramount to countries, such as Argentina, that are consolidating their investment regulatory environment and promoting their full insertion in the global economy, based on shared values of freedom and progress.”

Diana Elena Mondino — Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship (Argentina)

“This new Agreement will help developing countries attract and benefit from global investment. This is a significant moment for the WTO, showing it can continue to innovate and deliver new international trade and investment rules.”

Senator The Hon. Tim Ayres — Assistant Minister for Trade (Australia)

“This Agreement will contribute to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and to the modernization of WTO's rule book. We call on all WTO Members to support its incorporation into the WTO system at MC13.”

Mr. Wang Wentao — Minister of Commerce (China)

“Costa Rica celebrates the conclusion of this Agreement which represents a valuable tool to complement our investment policy value proposition, strengthen the country’s legal framework, and boost competitiveness, transparency, digitalization, predictability and simplification of administrative procedures.”

Mr. Manuel Tovar Rivera — Minister of Foreign Trade (Costa Rica)

“El Acuerdo FID impulsará la inversión responsable, promoviendo políticas transparentes, alentando la implementación de un portal único de información, la adopción voluntaria de principios internacionales de responsabilidad empresarial, y la debida diligencia por parte de las empresas.”

Sra. Sonsoles García — Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries (Ecuador)

“The Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement will bring great benefits to economies such as El Salvador, boosting efforts to streamline and make investment-related procedures transparent through the digitalisation of government services; in addition to fostering the use and transfer of technology, which will promote the participation of economies such as El Salvador in global investment flows.”

María Luisa Hayem — Minister of Economy (El Salvador)

“This agreement comes at a crucial moment when investment needs are stronger than ever. I hope it can be implemented as soon as possible since it constitutes an opportunity for developing and least-developed countries to boost their capacity to attract more investment, improve the business climate and help grow their economies.”

Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis — Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner of The European Commission (European Union)

“The Investment Facilitation Agreement for Development enables the improvement of investment transparency and predictability with the objective of increasing the participation of developing countries.”

Hector José Marroquín Mora — Vice Minister of Integration and Foreign Trade (Guatemala)

“The IFD Agreement is a milestone for the issue of sustainable development, representing a significant step towards smoother and more equitable trade between nations, thus strengthening sustainable development”.

Fredis Cerrato Valladares — Secretario of Economic Development (Honduras)

“The IFD Agreement is an important step in many ways... If successfully integrated into the WTO Agreement, it will be the first newly added plurilateral agreement after the establishment of the WTO in 1995.”

Algernon Yau — Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Hong Kong, China)

“The Agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development will have a meaningful impact on sustainable development and economic growth of Members, especially developing and LDC Members. This Agreement is also crucial to updating the WTO’s rule-making function and should be swiftly incorporated into its legal framework.”

Tsuji Kiyoto — State Minister for Foreign Affairs (Japan)

“By enhancing transparency and simplifying administrative procedures under the WTO IFD Agreement (IFDA), Malaysia is poised to attract high-quality investments, increase economic complexity and create high-value jobs to spur socio-economic growth, while also improving inclusivity.”

H.E. Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz — Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (Malaysia)

“The conclusion and implementation of the IFD Agreement represents a landmark opportunity to stimulate cross-border investment flows among WTO members and will play a crucial role in fostering sustainable development and inclusive growth.”

Honourable Maneesh Gobin — Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of The Republic of Mauritius (Mauritius)

“Mexico recognizes the importance of investment to encourage the development of economies. The set of disciplines incorporated into the IFD Agreement will attract productive investments and add value in countries’ continuous effort to reach prosperity.”

Dr. Alejandro Encinas Nájera — Undersecretary of Foreign Trade (Mexico)

“North Macedonia values that outreach efforts to investment facilitation will result with the conclusion of an Investment Foreign Direct Agreement for Development, by making our economies more efficient and attractive to foreign and national investors.”

Mrs. Razmena Chekikj-Durovikj — State Secretary At The Ministry of Economy of The Republic of North Macedonia and Head of Delegation At MC-13 (Macedonia)

“Norway welcomes the IFD agreement which we believe will foster economic growth among members. We strongly encourage its incorporation into the WTO Agreement.”

H.E. Mr. Espen Barth Eide — Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norway)

“The Philippines is pleased to be part of the IFDA, which promises to attract more foreign direct investments into my country. The IFD disciplines, specifically, transparency and facilitation, will certainly contribute to creating a more predictable investment environment around the world.”

Hon Alfredo E Pascual — Trade Minister, Secretary of Trade and Industry (Philippines)

“Singapore welcomes the successful conclusion and broad support for the IFD Agreement. This reflects the importance that WTO Members, particularly developing and LDC Members, attach to enhancing our attractiveness as investment destinations. We look forward to the IFD Agreement’s early implementation to enable Members and businesses to realise its benefits.”

Mr. Gan Kim Young — Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Singapore)

“The IFD agreement will improve the climate investment in countries seeking to attract FDIs for their development and facilitate Swiss investments abroad. It will be a contribution of the WTO to the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Helene Budliger Artieda — State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Seco (Switzerland)

“The IFD Agreement is a historic success proving that the WTO continues to deliver outcomes fit for the 21st Century. It will support all WTO Members, in particular developing countries, to boost investment flows needed to tackle global challenges.”

Greg Hands — Trade Policy Minister (United Kingdom)

“Uruguay entiende que la comunidad internacional necesita esta clase de Acuerdo para mejorar las condiciones orientadas a atraer inversiones de calidad destinadas a promover el necesario desarrollo sostenible de nuestros países.”

Dr. Nicolas Albertoni — Vice-Minister for Foreign Relations (Uruguay)




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