WTO: Investment facilitation talks intensify to conclude draft agreement in first half of 2023


World Trade Organisation (WTO) members participating in the negotiations on investment facilitation for development (IFD) agreed on an intensive schedule of meetings over the coming months, with the objective of finalizing the negotiating text by mid-2023. Talks are based on the Draft IFD Agreement reached in December 2022.

 At a meeting on 1 February, delegations stressed the need for a swift process to conclude the text and its review, following guidelines proposed by the co-coordinators, Ambassador Sofía Boza of Chile and Ambassador Jung Sung Park of the Republic of Korea.


To achieve the goal of resolving the remaining open issues in the negotiations and finalizing the text review process before the summer break, as laid out in the December 2022 “Statement by the co-Coordinators”, delegations underlined the need to plan their work for the coming months efficiently and effectively. They agreed to hold six negotiating rounds between January and July. The schedule of IFD negotiating meetings for the first part of 2023 can be found here.

The objective is to maintain momentum following the very positive progress made in the negotiations in 2022 and bring participants closer to finalizing the IFD Agreement. Ambassadors Boza and Park stressed the importance of making further progress on three parallel tracks: resolving the remaining issues in the Annex to the Draft Agreement and completing the review of the text; advancing work on investment facilitation needs assessment for developing and least-developed (LDC) country members; and intensifying outreach efforts towards other WTO members, explaining the Agreement’s pro-development benefits.

The co-coordinators encouraged participants to refrain as much as possible from making new text proposals for the Annex to the Draft Agreement and to focus on resolving the remaining issues. Regarding the review process for the text, they underlined the need to find the right balance, without going backwards or falling into “eternal indecisiveness”. The co-coordinators also stressed the importance of finding common ground on the bracketed language as a matter of priority and the need to avoid reopening old issues that have not attracted any support.

Regarding the work on needs assessment, members were updated on progress on the “Self-Assessment Guide”, developed in collaboration with several international organizations with experience in the investment facilitation field. The WTO Secretariat reported that work was well advanced, and that a first draft of the Guide will be discussed at a dedicated session to be organized during the negotiating round on 3-5 April, with the participation of partner organizations.

The meeting was also the opportunity for the co-coordinators to report on the key take-aways from the Informal Ministerial Meeting on Investment Facilitation for Development on 19 January in Davos in the margins of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

The meeting, co-hosted by Chile and the Republic of Korea, gathered ministers and high-level representatives representing 52 WTO members, who re-affirmed their commitment to finalize the negotiations on the IFD Agreement as early as possible. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala attended the meeting at the invitation of the co-hosts.

Ministers reiterated their commitment to keep working in the lead-up to the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), scheduled to take place in February 2023 in Abu Dhabi, including by taking on the work on needs assessments and joining efforts to intensify outreach towards non-participants.

At a more technical level, the plenary meeting gave participating members the opportunity to advance work on a series of provisions of the Draft IFD Agreement, regarding taxation measures, the definition of “authorization” for an investment and financial exceptions. They also reviewed section II (Transparency of investment measures) and section IV (Focal points, domestic regulatory coherence and cross-border cooperation) of the Draft IFD Agreement.

During consultations, Türkiye announced that it was taking a “reflection pause” from the IFD process. It will, however, continue to observe the negotiations and assess the evolving negotiating text with its authorities and business community. Delegations commended Türkiye’s key contributions to the negotiations – as reflected in many provisions of the Draft IFD Agreement – and hoped that Türkiye would rejoin the process in the future.


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