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Download Publication article Sep 16, 2016

UNCTAD Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation

The September 2016 update of UNCTAD's Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation incorporates feedback and lessons learnt from multi-stakeholder consultations and intergovernmental processes, including endorsement by policymakers worldwide, as received at UNCTAD's 14th Ministerial Conference and the fifth World Investment Forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in July 2016, as well as other fora.

Although facilitating investment is crucial for growth and sustainable development, national and international investment policies have paid relatively little attention to investment facilitation to date. Earlier this year UNCTAD took a step towards closing this gap, formulating its Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation. It was based on the organization's rich experience with investment promotion and facilitation efforts worldwide over the past decades, and on the 2012 edition of UNCTAD's Investment Policy Framework, as well as UNCTAD's SDG Investment Action Plan (2014). The Action Menu was first presented to the investment community in January 2016. Following an initial web-based, multi-stakeholder consultation process on the Investment Policy Hub, an upgraded version of the Global Action Menu was officially launched in June 2016 as part of UNCTAD's flagship World Investment Report (WIR), resulting in media coverage in over 100 countries. The subsequent World Investment Forum, which convened over 3'000 investment stakeholders from more than 150 countries, provided a platform for disseminating, field-testing and further improving the Action Menu.

At the 2016 World Investment Forum, the Global Action Menu benefited from substantive inputs and comments from a multitude of investment-development stakeholders, including high-level policymakers from developing, developed and transition economies, as well as intergovernmental organizations and the private sector. Ministers, heads of investment promotion agencies (IPAs), senior investment treaty negotiators, and other investment stakeholders all supported the initiative and requested UNCTAD to further develop policy advice, technical assistance and global consensus building activity in the area of investment facilitation.

The 2016 World Investment Forum and UNCTAD 14 thus served as a launch pad for an important new UNCTAD policy drive on investment facilitation and for the broad dissemination of the organization's Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation.

In December 2016, the Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation was the subject of high-level discussions at the 63rd session of the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board (TDB) under item 3: Investment and Development. The meeting benefited from the insights shared by two panels, following general group statements ( read more).

This update of the Menu thus comes as a timely response to the renewed mandate from the UNCTAD 14th Ministerial Conference to further develop its efforts in investment facilitation through policy formulation, technical assistance and consensus-building.

UNCTAD’s Global Action Menu for Investment Facilitation and UNCTAD’s comprehensive range of investment facilitation-related technical assistance have been the subject of numerous presentations by UNCTAD staff. For instance at a workshop organized by the Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development (FIFD) – consisting of 11 WTO members: Argentina; Brazil; Chile; China; Colombia; Hong Kong, China; Kazakhstan; Korea; Mexico; Nigeria; and Pakistan (click here for the Division Director’s presentation).

Readers and users are invited to provide comments and ideas for the further development of the Action Menu. Please send your feedback to Mr. James Zhan, Director of the Investment and Enterprise Division at UNCTAD via DIAEinfo@unctad.org.

Update: the Action Menu is now also available in [French] and [Spanish]

Presentation on Investment Facilitation by James Zhan as delivered at UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board, 6 December 2016:

Presentation on Investment Facilitation by James Zhan as delivered at the WTO's Informal Dialogue on Investment Facilitation for Development, 23 April 2018: in the first of a series of structured discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO, Members focused on "improving the transparency and predictability of investment measures". Mr. Zhan presented UNCTAD's Global Action for Investment Facilitation (2016) and discussed the current landscape of transparency and predictability in IIAs. While transparency provisions, including "a priori" publication requirements, are increasingly found in IIAs today, the total share of BITs with a transparency provisions is still relatively low (13 per cent). Additionally, IIAs do not typically include "predictability" clauses per se, but rather are instruments that are designed to foster greater predictability as a whole. Thus, it may be difficult to disentangle investment protection vis-à-vis investment facilitation in this context.