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High-Level Regional Roundtable on the WTO Investment Facilitation for Development Negotiations: Perspectives from Asian and Pacific Economies, co-organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC), the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the World Economic Forum (WEF). This Roundtable is organised in the framework of the Investment Facilitation for Development project, jointly implemented by ITC and DIE. The Roundtable will take place on 30 March 2021, 2pm-6pm Bangkok, Thailand (GMT+7).

The Roundtable is meant to offer a platform for strategic exchange on the dynamic policy discussions and negotiations on investment facilitation for development – taking place on various levels and international fora – among a selected group of high-level policy makers, government officials, investment promotion and private sector representatives as well as eminent academic scholars, focused on Asia and Pacific. The event will provide an opportunity to reflect on the potential benefits and challenges of international frameworks on investment facilitation for development. Such a reflection process will help negotiators to ensure that their countries’ international engagement is in line with their sustainable development strategies and in line with their national and regional reform agenda.

Investment policy makers face a huge challenge to tackle declining foreign direct investment (FDI) flows as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the United Nations Conference for Development (UNCTAD), global FDI contracted by 42% in 2020, compared to the previous year. Flows to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) contracted by 31%. The consequences of the pandemic necessitate a discussion of the kind of policies and frameworks that are needed to facilitate FDI and domestic investment, especially investment that directly helps to promote sustainable development. While many governments are reconsidering levels of investment protection and liberalisation enshrined in their international investment agreements (IIA) and are participating in the reform discussions on investor state dispute settlement in the context of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), discussions on a distinct set of investment facilitation policies have gained momentum in recent years. Investment facilitation can be understood as a set of measures concerned, among other things, with improving the transparency and predictability of investment frameworks, streamlining procedures related to foreign investors and enhancing coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders.

Negotiations on investment facilitation policies involving Asian economies are ongoing in different fora at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. The different forms of investment frameworks, such as the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the earlier ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Investment Facilitation (IF) Action Plan, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the current World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on a multilateral framework on investment facilitation for development, will play a key part in helping to attract and facilitate investment and advance Asian economies sustainable development goals, in particular in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Roundtable will provide a brief background on the progress of the discussions on investment facilitation for development as well as an exchange on the types of concrete measures that such frameworks could contain. The Roundtable will address the main challenges and concerns that ought to be taken into consideration when negotiating international investment facilitation frameworks that are beneficial for sustainable development, also in the broader context of investment agreements.

The objective is to facilitate joint learning and capacity building among participants. The Roundtable will be held under the Chatham House Rule to facilitate open and results-oriented discussions. A report will distil key policy recommendations from the discussion at the Roundtable.

Note: Closed meeting and by invitation only


Contact Information

Trade, Investment and Innovation Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Telephone: +66 2 288-1234

Email: [email protected]