These revised guidelines – addressed to members of the global business community, government officials and stakeholders – were launched at the World Investment Forum, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
While the value of cross-border direct investment has grown substantially in the past decade, international investors have reason to be concerned about the impact of recent developments and policies on the free flow of international investment.
“Investment underpins economic growth and has shared value for companies and governments alike,” said Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board for Nestle. “It allows companies to establish themselves in global markets and creates ties between domestic and foreign companies, allowing them to expand their activities and create new jobs.”
The aim of the Guidelines is to facilitate cross-border investment for investors and governments, as well as to harness the vast potential of cross-border investment for stimulating balanced global growth.Trade and investment have the potential to reinvigorate the global economy during the present economic crisis, particularly by driving sustainable growth in developing countries.
“The nature of investment has evolved geographically, with developing economies accounting for more investment inflows and outflows,” said James Bacchus, Chair of the drafting group for the revised Guidelines.
There has been a sharp increase, since the original Guidelines were drafted in 1972, in international investment inflows to, and outflows from, developing and transition economies. In 2010, these accounted for 52% of the total investment inflows and 29% of total investment outflows.
Global inward investment flows now approach US$1.2 trillion and sales of affiliates worldwide are just under US$30 trillion, far in excess of world trade flows. There are also more than 2,800 bilateral investment treaties, many of them south-south.
The contribution of cross border investment to the global economy could however be even greater if the conditions for investment and trade were more effectively set out. ICC has integrated emerging areas of concern for business into the Guidelines,which were first produced in 1949. These issues have been grouped into three categories:
- Business confidence regarding sovereign debt policies, macro-economic imbalances, taxation, and regulatory uncertainty.
- Re-regulation of foreign investment.
- State-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds.
There have been significant updates to the Guidelines in the chapters on labour and fiscal policy, reflecting the environment for international investment today, and new chapters on competitive neutrality and corporate responsibility have been added.
Restoring business confidence
“The revision of the ICC Guidelines for International Investment provides another opportunity for business to voice its concerns about how the regulatory environment can encourage economic growth. To invest, business needs to know that it is being supported by effective regulations, and that further barriers to trade will not be put up,” said ICC Secretary General Jean-Guy Carrier.
ICC has been leading the global business community with initiatives – including the ICC Business World Trade Agenda and the ICC G20 Advisory Group – that encourage dialogue between business and government, in a bid to establish practical policies for opening trade and investment.
The ICC Business World Trade Agenda initiative will feature consultations with business executives around the world over the next year in preparation for the World Business Summit, being hosted by ICC Qatar in April 2013, back-to-back with the ICC WCF 8th World Chambers Congress. The aim of this initiative is to provide fresh solutions to opening global trade following the stalemate in the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
ICC will also feed trade and investment proposals into the G20 policy process, with the aim of strengthening the trade and investment policy component of the G20 agenda.