In December 2021, 112 WTO members co-sponsored a Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development, in which they recognize the Consolidated Document by the Coordinator (so-called ‘Easter Text (Revision 5)’) as the basis for their ongoing negotiations and state their objective to conclude the text negotiations by the end of 2022.

Launched in 2017 by a group of developing and least-developed WTO members, the Joint Initiative aims at developing a multilateral agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development that will improve the investment and business climate, and make it easier for investors in all sectors of the economy to invest, conduct their day-to-day business and expand their operations. Facilitating greater participation of developing and least-developed members in global investment flows also constitutes a core objective of the future Agreement.  The initiative does not cover market access, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement.

ESF Position

ESF actively supported the negotiations for an agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development and adopted a formal position paper in May 2020. See Position Paper here.

Executive summary:

  • European services businesses are major investors across the world, creating economic growth and jobs in the countries they open establishments.
  • The lack of transparency and due diligence in the regulatory environment for foreign investors are systematically raised as major trade barriers when European service investors try to open or expand investment in third countries.
  • The European Services Forum (ESF) suggests a non-exhaustive list of provisions that should be included in a WTO Investment Facilitation Agreement, with notably provisions on transparency, on the authorisation processes, on the independence of the regulatory bodies and the fight against corruption.
  • ESF calls on the largest number of WTO members to adopt the elements that will be included in the Investment Facilitation Agreement and to include them into their own national legislation governing foreign direct investment.
  • The European Services Forum calls upon all WTO Members to engage in the coming months in the negotiating phase towards the adoption of WTO Investment Facilitation Framework, if possible by the Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference whenever it will take place, or at least to register good progress at that Conference and encourage the negotiators to keep the momentum and pursue their talks towards the conclusion of an ambitious framework as early as possible.

Investment facilitation negotiators announce deal on Agreement’s text

WTO members participating in the talks on investment facilitation for development (IFD) announced on 6 July 2023 the conclusion of the negotiations on the text of the Agreement following three years of intense text-based negotiations amongst over 110 delegations at all levels of development. The announcement marks a new turning point in the negotiations and reflects the common aspiration of IFD participants that the IFD Agreement will reach another key landmark at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) to be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2024.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala welcomed this major achievement towards concluding an IFD Agreement, which aims at attracting and retaining more and higher quality investment, taking into account the respective development priorities of members.

“This represents a momentous achievement,” said DG Okonjo-Iweala, highlighting that the text is the product of discussions among more than 110 participating members, including 80 developing economies, 20 of them least-developed countries (LDCs). In addition, out of the roughly 70 text-based proposals, two-thirds came from, or were co-sponsored by, developing or LDC members, noted the Director-General. 

“The proposed IFD Agreement would not just help WTO members attract and retain more investment, but also higher-quality investment,” added DG Okonjo-Iweala. “By enhancing transparency, accountability and good governance in investment procedures, the Agreement fosters a business climate more conducive to sustainable development. The text also contains provisions addressing “Responsible Business Conduct” and “Measures Against Corruption” — again breaking new ground within the WTO.”

The July 2023 statement by the co-coordinators, Ambassador Boza of Chile and Ambassador Park of the Republic of Korea, highlights IFD participants’ efforts towards achieving an IFD Agreement at the WTO.

The final text of the Agreement is not yet publicly available.

Here you can find the July 2021 Version (INF/IFD/RD/74/REV 1)

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