The Joint Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development was launched by 70 members at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) in December 2017 and was driven by a need to address the trade barriers slowing down and restricting investment processes between countries. In November 2019, 98 WTO members issued a subsequent Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development.
Discussions in the Joint Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development aim to facilitate foreign direct investment that would: improve the transparency and predictability of investment measures; streamline and speed up administrative procedures and requirements; and enhance international cooperation, information sharing, the exchange of best practices, and relations with relevant stakeholders, including dispute prevention.
Formal negotiations began in September 2020 drawing on an informal consolidated text with a view to achieving concrete outcomes by the 12th Ministerial meeting at the end of 2021.
A core objective of the framework is to facilitate greater participation by developing and least-developed WTO Members in global investment flows. The negotiations will not address market access, investment protection or Investor-State Dispute Settlement.
The Initiative aims to develop predictable, transparent and open investment rules that will contribute to more efficient investment flows and increased business confidence and it is now in a formal negotiation phase. The Initiative commenced with an exploratory phase in 2019 which considered wide-ranging input from participants, including drawing on the experiences of their private sectors regarding the investment barriers faced by each of them. As a result it was agreed that negotiations should cover the following core, including:
- Improving regulatory transparency and predictability – such as publishing investment-related measures and establishing enquiry points;
- Streamlining and speeding up administrative procedures – such as removing duplicative steps in approval processes and simplifying applications;
- Enhancing international cooperation and addressing the needs of developing members – such as providing technical assistance and capacity-building for developing countries and least developed countries; and
- Other investment facilitation-related issues – such as implementing provisions to encourage responsible business conduct.
Based on these objectives, a number of participants tabled proposals, which were drawn upon to draft a “streamlined text” for the commencement of formal negotiations, covering the following key areas: Scope and general principles
- Carve-out of market access, investment protection and investor state dispute settlement
- Most Favoured Nation commitments
- Publication of investment laws and regulations
- Publication of information on investment authorisation procedures
- Notification of investment laws and regulations to the WTO
- WTO enquiry points
Administrative procedures and requirements
- Indicative timeframes for the processing of applications
- Use of ICT in the application process
- Criteria for investment authorisations
- Fees and charges
- Contact points for investors, domestic coordination and international cooperation
- Special and differential treatment for developing and Least-Developed Members
- Including proposals for the phased implementation of commitments
- Cross-cutting issues
- Corporate social responsibility
- Other issues
- Institutional arrangements and final provisions
- General Exceptions
- Establishment of a Committee on Investment Facilitation
At a meeting on 24 November 2021, WTO Members participating in the Investment Facilitation for Development initiative agreed:
- To present Ministers at MC12 with a revised version of the Easter Text which will serve as the basis for negotiations in 2022;
- A schedule of eight formal negotiating meetings for 2022;
- To set the goal of concluding negotiations by the end of 2022.
The following WTO Members have been confirmed as participants of the Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development initiative:
Afghanistan; Albania; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bahrain, Kingdom of; Barbados; Belgium; Benin; Brazil; Bulgaria; Burundi; Cabo Verde; Cambodia; Canada; Central African Republic; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Estonia; European Union; Finland; France; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Grenada; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Honduras; Hong Kong, China; Hungary; Iceland; Indonesia; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait, the State of; Kyrgyz Republic; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Latvia; Liberia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macao, China; Malaysia; Maldives; Malta; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Moldova, Republic of; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Myanmar; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Nigeria; North Macedonia; Norway; Oman; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Singapore; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Solomon Islands; Spain; Suriname; Sweden; Switzerland; Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; Tajikistan; Togo; Türkiye; Uganda; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Uruguay; Vanuatu; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe;
Outstanding Issues in Annex to Draft Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement Resolved WTO members participating in the negotiations on investment facilitation for development (IFD) agreed to remove an Annex to the Draft Agreement which previously contained a list of the pending issues they had yet to tackle. These issues have now been addressed to the satisfaction of the IFD parties, and so the Annex will be removed from the next version of the text.
Joint Statement Released by Investment Facilitation for Development Parties In WTO Document WT/L/1130, 112 parties to the Joint Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development released a joint statement updating on progress in the negotiations, welcoming the conslidated 'Easter Text' contained in INF/IFD/RD/74/Rev.5 and identifying it as the basis for ongoing work.
WTO - Investment facilitation agreement negotiators advance work for MC12 WTO members taking part in the negotiations for an agreement on investment facilitation for development (IFD) have discussed their plans and expectations for the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) to be held in Geneva on 30 November — 3 December. At a meeting on 2-3 November, participating members also addressed a number of provisions in several sections of the so-called Easter text, the consolidated document which serves as the basis for the negotiations.
WTO - Investment facilitation talks explore future Agreement integration into WTO legal structure WTO members taking part in the discussions on investment facilitation for development (IFD) made steady progress in negotiating a future Agreement at a new round of meetings on 4-5 October 2021. The meetings saw a high level of engagement and active participation, with delegations engaging in a conceptual discussion on the integration of the future IFD Agreement into the WTO legal structure, based on a series of guiding questions.
WTO: Investment facilitation talks address S&DT, technical assistance and sustainable investment At a negotiating meeting of the structured discussions on investment facilitation for development on 7-8 September 2021, participating members discussed recent proposals on special and differential treatment (S&DT) for developing and least developed country (LDC) members, technical assistance and capacity building, cross-border cooperation, sustainable investment and home-country obligations. Delegates also heard the reports of the discussion group facilitators on “scope” and “facilitation of the entry and temporary stay of business persons for investment purposes”. Members welcomed Peru following its decision to participate in this joint initiative.
WTO: DG Okonjo-Iweala welcomes progress on investment facilitation Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala welcomed the headway towards an agreement made by participants in the negotiations on investment facilitation for development. Speaking on 13 July at a stocktaking and planning session organized by the group of participating members, DG Okonjo-Iweala stressed that facilitating investment flows to developing countries would be essential to sustain and accelerate the post-pandemic economic recovery, particularly in developing and least-developed economies.
WTO: Investment facilitation talks advance, delve into implementation and technical assistance Participants in the discussions on investment facilitation for development (IFD) continued to make progress in negotiating a future agreement. At a new round of meetings on 16-17 June, which saw a high level of engagement, delegations also participated in a dedicated session on implementation, technical assistance and capacity building with a view to informing and facilitating discussions on these issues.
WTO - Productive new negotiating round for an investment facilitation agreement At a negotiating meeting of the structured discussions on investment facilitation for development on 11-12 May, participating members made good progress, with a view to achieving a concrete outcome at the 12th Ministerial Conference at the end of the year. Delegations addressed a number of provisions across several sections of the so-called Easter text, the consolidated document which serves as the basis for the negotiations.
WTO - Steady progress in the negotiations for an investment facilitation agreement The participants in the negotiations for an agreement on investment facilitation for development held another negotiating meeting on 8-9 March 2021, which saw steady progress and a high level of engagement in the discussions. The progress laid the ground for the coordinator, Ambassador Mathias Francke of Chile, to reiterate his intention to circulate around Easter time a streamlined text compiling all the revised draft inputs put forward during the previous rounds of negotiations as well as the different proposals submitted by WTO members.
WTO - Investment facilitation agreement negotiators set up roadmap towards Ministerial Conference WTO members taking part in the negotiations for an agreement on investment facilitation for development have approved a roadmap with a view to reaching a substantive outcome by the next Ministerial Conference. At the first round of meetings of 2021 held on 25-26 January, delegations actively engaged in the continued discussion and committed in this new phase to make as much progress as possible — and as speedily as possible — on the development of specific provisions for a future agreement.
WTO - Investment facilitation agreement negotiators wrap up productive year The participants in the negotiations for an agreement on investment facilitation for development held another round of meetings on 7-8 December which saw a high level of participation and engagement. Negotiations will resume in January 2021 with a view to achieving a concrete outcome by the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12), scheduled for next year.
WTO - Investment facilitation negotiations end productive year, aim at conclusion by end 2022 WTO members taking part in the negotiations for an agreement on investment facilitation for development (IFD) held on 24 November their last meeting before the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), wrapping up “a very productive year” and setting the target of concluding text negotiations by the end of 2022.
Bordelex - WTO investment facilitation negotiations: an update Author: Iana Dreyer
Ahead of further scheduled negotiations at the World Trade Organization for a new International Investment Agreement Borderlex analyses a draft consolidated text of the negotiations.
IISD - Investment Facilitation for Development: Evolution from 2022 and the road to MC13 Author: Rashmi Jose
The brief provides an update on how the negotiating text has evolved, summarizing the content of the draft agreement as it stands. It also highlights the main changes to the text from 2022 and the issues that members have yet to align on. The paper concludes with an overview of what might be expected from the JSI process going forward, including on the matter of the legal architecture.
IISD - The State of Play for Sustainable Development in the Joint Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development Authors: Rashmi Jose and Andreas Oeschger
This paper examines the ways in which negotiations under the Joint Statement Initiative on Investment Facilitation for Development take into account sustainable development aspects.
East Asia Forum - Can WTO talks revive global FDI? Authors: Simon J Evenett and Johannes Fritz, Global Trade Alert
Advancing global talks on investment facilitation has long been a goal of many governments in the Asia Pacific. During its G20 presidency in 2016, China gave the matter renewed priority. Since the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, diplomats in Geneva have been negotiating a multilateral framework for investment facilitation. These talks have advanced far enough that an ‘Easter text’ was circulated among negotiators this year. But even if a large enough fraction of the WTO membership signed this deal, would it make a difference?
ESF - Position Paper on WTO JSI on Investment Facilitation for Development 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 and 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.
East Asia Forum - A multilateral investment facilitation agreement can help advance development Author: Karl P Sauvant, Columbia University
Negotiations for an Investment Facilitation Framework for Development are proceeding apace in the World Trade Organization (WTO) among over 100 of its members. The objective is to achieve a concrete outcome by the WTO’s Ministerial Conference beginning November 2021 in Geneva.
ICT/DIE - Investment Facilitation for Development: A toolkit for policymakers The publication includes lessons from negotiating and implementing relevant WTO agreements, an inventory of investment facilitation measures, as well as the proceedings of some 30 stakeholder consultations conducted under the ITC-DIE project on investment facilitation for development. Particular emphasis has been placed on the development dimension of investment facilitation.