BRICS Summit Outlines Investment Facilitation Priority Areas
On 5 September 2017 in Xiamen, China, the BRICS Summit approved the “Outlines” for BRICS Investment Facilitation as a key deliverable of the Summit. The document is the outcome of months of intensive negotiations among BRICS countries.
The document outlines good practices with a view to promoting investment, in particular intra-BRICS investment. The “Outlines” focus on three priority areas of investment facilitation: enhancing transparency, improving efficiency and promoting cooperation. They also incorporate a series of mutually supportive actions that BRICS countries can take, with a view to establishing a collaborative mechanism.
Among others, the “Outlines” call on BRICS countries to make efforts towards greater transparency of investment laws, regulations and policy measures; to explore the possibility of designating an Ombudsman or a National Focal Point to handle enquiries and provide information related to investment; to enhance the efficiency of investment screening and approval; and to foster cooperation and coordination among respective domestic authorities for procedural streamlining by, for example, establishing a document-collecting “single-window”.
UNCTAD played an important role as facilitator for the negotiations of the “Outlines” and provided an initial draft based on its Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation first released in June 2016 and updated in September 2016.
At the 7th BRICS Trade Ministers Meeting, held in Shanghai from 2-3 August 2017, BRICS Trade Ministers “call[ed] on BRICS countries to work together to enhance intra-BRICS investment, and to improve the countries’ ability to attract investment through, with the support of UNCTAD, technical assistance and capacity building, thus maximizing the beneficial impact of investment”.
While facilitating investment is crucial for growth and sustainable development, national and international investment policies have paid relatively little attention to investment facilitation to date (see UNCTAD’s review of policy practices). UNCTAD’s Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation, developed in the context of the organization’s well established Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, aims to fill this systemic gap by providing policymakers with a package of policy options to facilitate investment for sustainable development.
The adoption of the “Outlines” by BRICS countries constitutes another milestone in countries’ efforts, in collaboration with UNCTAD, to mainstream investment facilitation into global investment policymaking.