Recognising the dynamic link between investment, trade, and development, several member states of the WTO are raising their voice to develop and adopt a multilateral Investment Facilitation Agreement. In this context, 70 members issued a Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development in 2017, paving the way for Structured Discussions on the matter. This study examines the issue of investment facilitation at the multilateral level in the context of its definition; major developments in WTO discussions, so far, on the issue; and clauses on investment facilitation in select regional trade agreements (RTAs). It aims at analysing the WTO Investment Facilitation initiative, with a view of highlighting the main issues therein.
Investment, especially foreign investment, has been recognised as an important driver of growth and development. Recognising the dynamic link between investment, trade, and development, several member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) including developing countries from Asia and Latin America, and developed countries like the European Union are raising their voice to develop and adopt an Investment Facilitation Agreement (IFA) at the multilateral level.
The Joint Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development issued by a group of 70 countries during the 11th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, held at Buenos Aires during 10-13 December 2017, paved the way for Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development at the WTO. The Structured Discussions started on 28 June 2018 and have had four meetings. There has been some progress of these discussions through proposals on possible elements of the proposed IFA. In this backdrop the issue of investment facilitation at the multilateral level is analysed in terms of its progress and way ahead.