On December 10, 2021, WTO members who are signatories to the Joint Statement Initiative on investment facilitation adopted a statement (contained in document WT/L/1130). In this statement, they welcomed the progress made in negotiations, “aiming to conclude the text negotiations by the end of 2022.”
Structured discussions on investment facilitation continue during lead-up to now-postponed ministerial conference
Over these last months, participating WTO members have continued work on new proposals as well as on the “Easter Text” (circulated by the coordinator of the structured discussions in mid-April), which has become the basis for negotiations.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced international negotiations, including those related to investment such as the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on investment facilitation by a group of WTO member states, and the UNCITRAL WGIII, to move online. Virtual negotiations create new challenges for officials, as well as new opportunities. This article discusses the results of a survey of delegates involved in the JSI and UNCITRAL processes.
WTO members involved in the “structured discussions” on investment facilitation met on several occasions during the first quarter of 2021. These meetings culminated with the circulation of the “Easter Text,” an important milestone in the talks that brings together several earlier drafts and texts in one document. This text will serve as the main basis for drafting any ultimate agreement on investment facilitation.
On December 30, 2020, after seven years of discussion, Brussels and Beijing announced the conclusion of the negotiations for an “in principle” Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) between China and the European Union.
This article highlights three key areas where WTO Members need to be wary about unintended interactions between the proposed Multilateral Framework on Investment Facilitation (MFIF) and IIAs. It also comments on the effectiveness of proposed attempts to separate the MFIF developed by the trade community from the broader IIA regime, whose reform is being coordinated and led within the United Nations through UNCTAD and UNCITRAL.
Following two years of “structured discussions,” the negotiations for a proposed WTO multilateral framework for investment facilitation (MFIF) are set to begin on September 24–25, 2020.
The 101 WTO members discussing a proposed multilateral framework on investment facilitation are now considering a new “consolidated text,” which is meant to be a stepping stone for formal negotiations once these begin.
There are several efforts underway at multiple levels—national, bilateral, regional and multilateral—aimed at reforming the IIA regime. These reform efforts are operating in parallel to developments in other areas of international investment governance, some of which have advanced quickly over the past year, including the structured discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO, as well as efforts in the UN context to craft a binding treaty on business and human rights. This year’s UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference assessed the progress made to date since launching UNCTAD’s 10 Options for Phase 2 of IIA Reform, looking at trends across multiple areas of international investment governance, as well as across world regions. This ITN Insight summarizes the key takeaways from the 2019 event and considerations for Phase 2 going forward.
The UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2019 featured a session dedicated to investment facilitation and promotion.
The joint initiative being pursued by 92 WTO members on developing a multilateral framework on investment facilitation has reached a new phase, with various new participants involved and a push for significant progress ahead of a December stocktaking meeting.
The 70 WTO members participating in the structured discussions on a possible multilateral framework on investment facilitation concluded their current phase of work in late July and are reportedly looking to “intensify” their efforts after the organization’s annual August hiatus.
Investment Facilitation at the WTO: An attempt to bring a controversial issue into an organization in crisis
The structured discussions on investment facilitation (IF) among 70 WTO members are now 18 months old. Participants are wrapping up their latest phase of work: considering examples of different issues and elements that could form the basis of a multilateral IF framework. The authors examine the history of investment discussions at the WTO and review how international investment governance in other forums has evolved in recent years. They examine what challenges can emerge in crafting IF disciplines, especially if these are binding, and the importance of considering which forums are most appropriate for IF-related discussions.
“Structured discussions” on a possible multilateral facilitation framework resumed in Geneva this past month. The meeting, held in early March, marked the first session of the new year, and begins a new phase in the structured discussions process. The WTO members involved previously met seven times during 2018, examining a series of overarching objectives that this framework could address.
Investment facilitation is a vague and broad term encompassing administrative simplification for investors. Certain proposals submitted to global forums also include mechanisms giving foreign investors an opportunity to participate in the design process of new regulations. Would multilateral rules on investment facilitation pose risks to domestic regulatory processes?
Making the Right to Regulate in Investment Law and Policy Work for Development: Reflections from the South African and Brazilian experiences
The right to regulate can be defined as states’ sovereign right to regulate in the public interest—their policy space. Because international investment agreements (IIAs) were created to limit certain aspects of countries’ right to regulate, the first wave of IIAs inhibited host countries’ regulatory experimentation that could be harmful to foreign investors’ rights.
The problems of traditional BITs and the growing number of ISDS cases were among factors that led Brazil to develop the CIFA model, aimed at promoting and facilitating high-quality and productive foreign investment.
A meeting of the WTO General Council was suspended on May 10, 2017 after India objected to the adoption of the proposed agenda, which included a “trade and investment facilitation” item.
As part of the World Investment Forum (WIF) 2016, negotiators of international investment agreements (IIAs) and various stakeholders convened at the High-Level IIA Conference on July 19, 2016 in Nairobi, […]
During the 10th Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from November 7 to 10, representatives from Brazil and India announced that they had recently initialled a bilateral investment agreement (BIT).
The Brazilian Agreement on Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments (ACFI): A New Formula for International Investment Agreements?
Since the signing of the first Agreement on Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments (ACFI) by Brazil, in March 2015, English translations of the document and analyses of its innovative aspects have been published. The hidden question is: to what extent do Brazil’s ACFIs innovate in the regulation of foreign investments?
The Brazil–Mozambique and Brazil–Angola Cooperation and Investment Facilitation Agreements (CIFAs): A Descriptive Overview
Brazil and Mozambique signed on March 30, 2015 the first Cooperation and Investment Facilitation Agreement (CIFA) based on Brazil’s new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The second was signed on April 1, 2015 between Brazil and Angola. Unlike traditional BITs, which are geared towards investor protection, the CIFAs focus primarily on cooperation and investment facilitation. They promote amicable ways to settle disputes and propose state–state dispute settlement as a backup; notably, they do not include provisions on investor–state arbitration.