Leaders of government and business meeting at a summit here during the UNCTAD World Investment Forum urged steps to channel greater foreign direct investment into areas where it can spur job creation and durable economic progress in developing countries.
At Saturday’s World Leaders Investment Summit, H.E. Ahmed Bin Abdullah Bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for the Council of Ministers Affairs of Qatar, said the country has been engaged with UNCTAD in the promotion of investment and enterprise for job creation, particularly for women and the young. Among these joint activities is the Qatar-UNCTAD initiative for young entrepreneurs. The positive economic and social changes that can potentially result from the “Arab Spring” political events, especially for the young, will not be sustainable unless diplomatic efforts and partnerships among all international investment stakeholders also address economic questions, including the investment dimension, the Deputy Prime Minister said.
H.E. Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia, announced that significant efforts will be made to spur foreign direct investment (FDI) that can open up the North African regional market of 100 million people and specifically to promote investment into the tourism sector by, for example, lifting visa requirements for Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
Former United States President Bill Clinton, speaking via video, urged Forum participants to focus on maximizing the development impact of investment. He cited as an example work by UNCTAD on policy frameworks intended to harvest development benefits from investment and enterprise creation and expansion.
Tarja Kaarina Halonen, former President of the Republic of Finland and Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, was among speakers calling for increased investment in several sectors, including infrastructure, water, energy, agriculture, education, health, and other sectors important for building productive capacities in developing countries. These speakers noted recent efforts by UNCTAD to promote durable, effective international investment in agriculture through its Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment (PRAI)
Business leaders at the summit stressed the importance of stable and predictable investment “policy environments” -- something they said is vital for fostering international investment. In a world economy emerging from a global economic crisis, with the continuing failure to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations and a retrenchment in multilateral collaboration, investment policymaking faces new realities, these speakers said -- and that, in turn, requires new policies.
Other panellists at the Summit were H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; H.E. Ikililou Dhoinine, President of Comoros; H.E. Issoufou Mahamadou, President of Niger, Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the Senate of Algeria; Dominic Barton, Managing Director of McKinsey & Company; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestlé; Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce; Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and CEO of Total; Steen Riisgaard, President and CEO of Novozymes; and Hugo Sigman, President and CEO of Grupo Insud.
During his presentation to the Summit, Tunisian President Marzouki offered to host the next WIF in Tunisia in 2014 – adding his invitation to prior expressions of interest from Japan, Malaysia, China, and Dubai.