Remarks by DG Azevêdo

(check against delivery)

Thank you, Vice-Minister Yañez,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening. Thank you for the kind invitation to join you today.

This meeting comes at an important juncture for the Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development.

Over the last few months you have made remarkable progress. This includes your meeting in Shanghai, which I also had the privilege to address.

Your motivation is very positive. So is the open, transparent and inclusive manner in which you have advanced since this initiative was launched.

Today is an opportunity to strengthen your commitment and provide political guidance as you move into negotiating mode. Your goal to deliver results by our 12th Ministerial Conference in Kazakhstan in June is perfectly doable and desirable

MC12 is an important moment to show that the WTO can deliver. A meaningful outcome on investment facilitation would be a huge achievement to that end. It would foster greater cross-border economic activity, contributing to growth, job creation, and development.

As you work towards that objective, I would like to leave you with a few messages.

First, maintain the pragmatism and open-mindedness that has been a hallmark of your discussions.

I understand that the Coordinator has prepared a 'streamlined text' to illustrate how a multilateral framework for investment facilitation might look. This will help guide your negotiations.

Second, I urge you to keep the discussions open, transparent and inclusive, as you have done so far.

Continue reaching out to other members, in particular developing and least-developed countries. I would encourage you to extend this outreach to the private sector, since businesses will be key users of an eventual agreement.

I am convinced that everyone stands to benefit from a shared investment facilitation framework that also leaves space for countries to address individual circumstances.

The numbers suggest that many members agree. Your initiative today counts almost 100 participants, up from the 70 that launched these discussions in 2017. I understand that other members have shown interest in the initiative and are participating in the discussions. This is very positive.

Third, there is great interest in your work from many constituencies.

This morning I attended a session on Easing Investment Worldwide. I heard strong business support for a WTO agreement on investment facilitation. The private sector leaders there saw an investment facilitation framework as encouraging investment in developing countries, contributing to job creation and the SDGs.  

So I hope that your debates here will help you advance on these issues.

MC12 is just a few months away. Time may be short, but your determination is high.

I applaud that ambition and stand ready to help in any way that I can.

Thank you.




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