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Hub News Article Nov 16, 2015

UNCTAD briefs UN delegates on Policy Framework and WIR 2015

Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD’s Investment and Enterprise, and team leader of the World Investment Report, briefed New York delegates about the UNCTAD Investment PolicyFramework for Sustainable Development and the Roadmapfor the Reform of the International Investment Agreements Regime on 12 November 2015.

Presenting the latest trends in flows and policies, he pointed to the importance of foreign investment in closing the financing gap for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, estimated by UNCTAD to range from $3.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion per year in developing countries alone. Mobilizing investment and ensuring that it contributes to sustainable development is a priority for all countries.

UNCTAD’s Investment PolicyFramework has been developed to assist Member States and the international investment-development community in devising strategies and policies to attract and benefit from investment in sustainable development. The Framework has been updated with Member States and other experts to better align investment to the demands of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

As acknowledged in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will also require a reform of the international investment agreements (IIA) regime (which currently consists of over 3,300 treaties). UNCTAD's 2015World Investment Report: Reforming International Investment Governance offers a menu of options for the reform of the IIA regime, together with a roadmap to guide policymakers at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It also proposes a set of principles and guidelines to ensure coherence between international tax and investment policies.

H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations, elaborated on his country’s revision of its investment policy. He emphasized that Thailand has used UNCTAD’s Policy Framework extensively, both in terms of enhancing the sustainable development dimension of the countries' inward and outward flows, and its regime of international investment agreements. He noted that investment is a cross-cutting issue that touches on all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, but that this issue is absent from the General Assembly’s agenda

Ms. Adriana Vargas Saldarriaga, Director, Foreign Investment, Services and Intellectual Property, in the Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, explained the revisions to her country’s investment policies and treaties which were based entirely on UNCTAD’s Policy Framework. Referring to the seminal nature of UNCTAD’s Framework, she elaborated on key treaty aspects that were inspired by the Framework, and the country’s new investment promotion strategy that was based on pursuing the sustainable development dimension of investment in line with UNCTAD’s approach.

Mr. Wamkele Mene, Director, Investment and International Law, in the Department of Trade and Industry of South Africa, elaborated on his country’s new investment policy, which was largely shaped by the Framework. He stressed his country’s role in the development of the UNCTAD’s Framework, which had been launched by H.E. Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa. Explaining the background to the new South African approach to IIAs, he reiterated his country’s support for the UNCTAD reform path for IIAs, to provide for a better balance between the rights and obligations of investing companies and to ensure agreements do not run afoul of national laws.

Mr. Joerg Weber, Head of UNCTAD’s Investment Policies Branch, added that foreign investment matters for all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and that for some countries the contribution of foreign investment is key. He stressed UNCTAD’s role in helping Member States in this regard, pointing to various UNCTAD technical assistance products and programmes. He also noted that the issue of investment has been taken up by all international high-level forums, including the ASEAN Summit, the European Parliament and the G20, but not as of yet by the General Assembly and its Second Committee.

Ms. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, UNCTAD New York Office thanked all present and invited them to browse UNCTADTool Boxthat includes all the capacity building tools that UNCTAD offers Member States to assist them in putting in place the policies, regulations, and institutional frameworks and in mobilizing the resources needed to fulfil the ambitions of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Agenda

Presentation by Mr. James Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD, teamleader for the World Investment Report

Presentation by Ms. Adriana Vargas Saldarriaga, Director, Foreign Investment, Services and Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Colombia