SPEECHES — DG ROBERTO AZEVÊDO

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Thank you Ambassador Gálvez,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

Thank you very much for the invitation to join you today.

This meeting marks an important juncture in the Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development.  It is an opportunity to take stock of the progress you have made in recent months. It is also an occasion to discuss your next steps, in light of your goal to deliver something by our 12th Ministerial Conference next year.

Your motivation is very positive. So is the open, transparent and inclusive manner in which you have advanced since this initiative was launched in Buenos Aires two years ago. Credit for this goes to the whole group — but also to you, Ambassador Gálvez, for your leadership as coordinator. Even though you said it won't affect the group's work, you will be sorely missed.

It is clear that this group's hard work to develop a framework for the facilitation of investment has translated into concrete progress.

From the outset, you have highlighted the linkages between investment facilitation and development.

You have explored how a coherent approach to trade and investment facilitation policies can help promote economic growth and development — particularly in developing and least-developed countries. 

In fact, we see many governments prioritizing investment facilitation as a means of promoting trade, growth and job creation.

Different countries will have different needs and approaches — but it is fair to say that everyone would stand to benefit from a shared investment facilitation framework that also leaves space for members to address their particular circumstances.

There are evident parallels here with the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which has clearly inspired your work.

Of course, you have already moved well beyond the stage of making the case for the importance of this issue. You have taken important steps toward identifying how a multilateral framework for investment facilitation might look.

Earlier this year, you moved to an example-based discussion, using the prism of specific cases to develop potential elements of a framework. This was very important, because it helped to clarify what you had in mind with this exercise.

In July, you decided to base subsequent discussions on a Working Document.

I hear that this has progressed well, with a high level of engagement, and that the Working Document already shows the contours of a possible agreement. This is very encouraging, also, for the reason I just noted, for providing clarity.

It is also noteworthy that more and more members are joining these talks. Today, the initiative has almost 100 participants, up from 70 when these Structured Discussions were launched two years ago in Buenos Aires.

This is a clear sign of the importance that members attach to this issue, and of their goal to ensure that investment facilitation and development go hand-in-hand. The initiative received a significant political boost last month in Shanghai, after which 98 members reaffirmed their commitment to this work. They also agreed to aim for a concrete outcome at MC12.

Looking ahead, it is important to maintain this level of engagement.

I understand that your discussions on the Working Document have led to a clearer picture of what is doable, and what might still require further consideration. In terms of how to proceed, I understand that many of you have suggested that the coordinator should prepare a ‘streamlined text’ and move into negotiating mode in the first half of 2020. This is very encouraging.

Clearly you have a lot to discuss. So I hope that your debates today will provide some clarity on how you can move forward on all these issues.

As with any of these initiatives, and the WTO as a whole, you the members are the ones in the driving seat. So, I hope that you will maintain this level of pragmatism and openness as you switch gears in preparation for MC12. Your efforts are part of keeping the WTO responsive to the needs of members and the global economy.

I also encourage you to continue reaching out to other members, to ensure transparency and inclusivity.

So let's keep up this good work.

I will look forward to hearing about your discussions today.

Thank you.

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