Remarks by DG Azevêdo

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. Thank you for the kind invitation to speak to you all today.

I want to start by commending your efforts in advancing these Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.

I also want to thank Chile for its leadership as the coordinator of this initiative. And of course, to thank China for hosting this meeting today.

Since this initiative was launched in Buenos Aires, you have made important progress.

First, in terms of inclusivity.

I understand that more members have formally joined the initiative over the last few weeks.

The fact that many members, developed, developing and least-developed members, are closely engaged is clearly a reflection of your hard work to keep this process open.

It is also a reflection of their interest in this subject, and of your efforts to advance substantive discussions on the shape of future rules. And that is my second point.

You have managed to identify possible elements of an investment facilitation framework.

In July, you circulated a Working Document that reflects the areas of common ground and of common interest.

This is progress. And I understand that these efforts have helped other WTO members better understand where participants are heading.

I am pleased to hear that the discussions around the Working Document are progressing well, with a high level of engagement. This process has clearly demonstrated what can be achieved when members work together, with a clear sense of direction.

I hope you will keep up this momentum. Facilitating investments for development is in everyone's interest.

Global investment flows have been falling since 2015. This is very concerning, given the importance of trade and investment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Creating a supportive regulatory environment would help developing countries attract more direct investment. The Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation could play a vital role in this regard.

The contours of an agreement visible in the Working Document would simplify investment-related procedures and make information about them more readily available. There are clear parallels here with the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which has clearly inspired your work.

The joint ministerial statement today sends an important political message about your engagement. It also illustrates how the support for this initiative has grown significantly, with 92 members co-sponsoring the statement – up from 70 in Buenos Aires.

Looking ahead, MC12 is an obvious milestone for your work. I understand that you are already looking to define some potential deliverables by that time. So I encourage you to seize the opportunity the ministerial presents.
I also encourage you to keep engaging with other members and maintain the transparency and inclusivity that have been a hallmark of your discussions. 

Your efforts can contribute to ensuring that the WTO remains responsive to the needs of the global economy. 

Let's keep up this good work. Thank you.




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