In today’s global economy transparent, efficient and predictable rules governing trade and investment can play an important role in assisting economic development.

This is because predictable investment rules that follow principles such as due process help to build a stable environment for attracting capital. At the same time, stable and predictable rules also ensure that businesses can have confidence in the systems they are looking to invest in.

The aim of these World Trade Organisation (WTO) discussions is to develop a framework of rules for facilitating foreign direct investments that would:

  • improve transparency and predictability
  • streamline and speed up administrative procedures
  • enhance international cooperation, information sharing and exchange of best practices

Issues related to market access, investment protection and investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) are outside the scope of these plurilateral discussions.

Who is involved?

At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, 70 WTO members including New Zealand signed on to a Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development. The Statement calls for the beginning of discussions which are open to any WTO member wanting to participate. The 2017 Joint Statement is available here (external link).

At a meeting of trade Ministers on 6 November 2019 in Shanghai China,  92 WTO members including New Zealand issued another Joint Ministerial Statement on Investment Facilitation for Development. The latest Statement highlights the link between investment and development, and to make sure that any eventual framework considers the needs of members in developing and least developed countries. You can view the latest Joint Statement here (external link).

The process so far

Since the signing of the 2017 Joint Ministerial Statement, participating WTO members have met to share views, examples and best practices, and to identify possible elements they have in common.

These discussions are ongoing. At the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in Kazakhstan in June 2020 participating WTO members will take stock of discussions so far and discuss next steps.