Global Affairs Canada published a notice in the Canada Gazette of February 29, 2020, regarding a public consultation on a WTO framework on investment facilitation for development.In November 2019, 98 WTO members, including Canada, endorsed a new joint ministerial statement in Shanghai, committing to work towards a concrete outcome regarding the framework on investment facilitation for development at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference in June 2020.
The discussions about investment facilitation for development are about creating a more investment-friendly business climate. The objective of the discussions is to make investment-related policies transparent, efficient, and predictable, thereby getting rid of unnecessary “red tape,” and making it easier for businesses to grow and to create good jobs. Another aim is to encourage more international cooperation to facilitate investment, and help developing and least-developed countries attract international investments.
The WTO discussions to date have centred on the following four key areas:
- Improving regulatory transparency and predictability, such as publishing investment-related measures and establishing enquiry points;
- Streamlining and speeding up administrative procedures, such as removing duplicative steps in approval processes and simplifying applications;
- Enhancing international cooperation and addressing the needs of developing members, such as providing technical assistance and capacity building for developing countries and least-developed countries; and
- Discussing other investment facilitation-related issues, such as implementing provisions to encourage responsible business conduct.
Interested parties are invited to submit their views on a potential WTO framework on investment facilitation for development, including specific interests, priorities, and potential sensitivities. The following are examples of areas where the Government of Canada would appreciate receiving views from Canadians:
- Investment barriers, including any burdensome administrative procedures or lack of information that make it difficult to expand investments or cause uncertainty in operating a business;
- Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) [e.g. particular challenges faced by SMEs abroad, which could be addressed by the implementation of a WTO framework]; and
- Any other investment-related topics of interest or potential concern to Canadians.
Contributions can be sent by email to IFconsultationFI@international.gc.ca, or by mail to the address in the Canada Gazette.