SPEECHES — DG ROBERTO AZEVÊDO
Thank you Chair,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. I want to start by acknowledging your success in advancing the investment facilitation initiative in recent months.
Interest and engagement is high. I understand that 86 members took part in your first meeting in March. And there is an excellent turnout today as well.
This underscores the importance of keeping this initiative open, transparent and inclusive.
The process has been innovative from the start – from launching the Informal Dialogue, to bringing trade and investment officials together at the Abuja High Level Forum, to the Joint Ministerial Statement at MC11.
As we always say, the WTO is a member-driven organization. And this is an example of members driving with a sense of purpose and direction.
With this is mind, I want to acknowledge the man in the driving seat today – Ambassador Cima – especially as this is his last meeting as Coordinator of the Informal Dialogue.
Marcelo has done a great job as Coordinator – showing the kind of energy and leadership that has become his trademark. I have no doubt that everyone here today is grateful for his efforts.
From my conversations with Marcelo and other Ambassadors, I think there are at least four important things accomplished already with this initiative.
First, it has succeeded in focusing attention on the interlinkages between trade and investment. I think there is an understanding that in today's globalized and digitalized world it is becoming impossible to advance one without advancing the other.
The second thing you have done is to help to shift the investment debate from being all about 'protection' to focus more on 'facilitation'. This is what investors, entrepreneurs, businesses tell us they most want to see addressed.
The focus of today's meeting is improving the transparency and predictability of investment measures. This is key to improving the ease of doing business in all countries. It's also an example of an issue where greater cooperation could potentially deliver a win-win outcome for everyone. There are parallels here with the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which has clearly inspired your work.
The third element I wanted to highlight is that this process has demonstrated what can be achieved when members of all sizes, all regions, and all levels of development work together.
This initiative was launched by developing members, with numerous LDCs on board, and it has development as a core objective – but many developed members are also fully engaged and playing a leading role. It is a shared endeavour, and this is a very important point.
The fourth and final accomplishment that I want to highlight is perhaps the most important. This initiative has demonstrated the dynamism that can be generated by getting down to business, setting doable objectives, and aiming to deliver meaningful results.
In my exchanges with business leaders they often raise this work. They are taking notice of this initiative – and the other initiatives launched in Buenos Aires – and the fact that members are working to address these issues of pressing economic importance.
Their interest is a very positive sign.
So I think you have already achieved a lot. The initiative has come a long way.
Looking ahead, as you seek to make further progress, I would urge you to remain open, transparent and inclusive.
It's important to ensure that everyone's concerns are taken into account. This kind of inclusivity is essential in ensuring that this work is supportive of the multilateral system.
As to where all of this leads, that is for the proponents to determine, working with the rest of the membership.
Ultimately facilitating investment is in everyone's interest.
It is critical to expanding development, fuelling innovation, generating jobs, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It's important to get it right. And that starts with informed, open and frank debate.
So I welcome today's session – and your ongoing discussions.
You are providing an invaluable space where all members can share ideas, understand their differences, learn from one another's experiences, and hopefully find common ground.
So, good luck. Thank you for listening. And I look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations.