Over the two-day meeting, participating delegations — currently 106 — engaged in a very constructive discussion, with a view to achieving a concrete outcome by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) scheduled for next year.
The negotiation saw delegations submitting new proposals and focusing on concrete wording for specific provisions of the future agreement. They addressed the streamlining and speeding up of administrative procedures, the types of mechanisms for contact/focal points, and arrangements to enhance domestic coordination and cross-border cooperation. They also discussed temporary entry for investment persons and the facilitation of movement of businesspersons for investment purposes, the issues of transfer and subrogation as well as cross-cutting matters, including responsible business conduct and measures against corruption.
The coordinator, Ambassador-designate of Chile Mathias Francke, updated participants on the productive open-ended intersessional meeting held on 29 October where delegations revised the wording suggested to reflect common ground on various provisions of Section II (Transparency of Investment Measures) and Section III (Streamlining and Speeding Up Administrative Procedures and Requirements) and to streamline the consolidated text discussed so far.
With another round of formal negotiations on 7-8 December and an informal open-ended inter-sessional meeting scheduled for 23 and 27 November, the coordinator said the process will keep moving ahead so that “collectively we can show concrete results,” with a revised and streamlined consolidated text being circulated in late December. The coordinator encouraged delegations to continue working bilaterally or in groups in order to advance the negotiations and facilitate convergence.
Participants in the structured discussions on investment facilitation for development officially kick-started on 25 September 2020 formal negotiations to reach a multilateral agreement on this issue and held a second round of negotiations on 8-9 October.
The joint initiative on investment facilitation for development is member-driven, transparent, inclusive and open to all WTO members. It was launched at the 11th Ministerial Conference held in December 2017 in Buenos Aires where proponents issued a Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development, followed by a second Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development on 22 November 2019.
In the context of the WTO, investment facilitation means the setting up of a more transparent, efficient and investment-friendly business climate by making it easier for domestic and foreign investors to invest, conduct their day-to-day business and expand their existing investments.
The focus on investment facilitation comes with the recognition that in today’s integrated global economy, expanding investment flows, like trade flows, depend on simplifying, speeding up and coordinating processes. Indeed, in many cases, the bottlenecks, inefficiencies and uncertainties that investment facilitation seeks to address arise from unnecessary red tape, bureaucratic overlap or out-of-date procedures which can become costly impediments to investment.