Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) from Malta, Mexico, China, Swaziland, and Grenada won awards as UNCTAD’s Third World Investment Forum kicked off with a banquet Friday evening.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi and H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, represented by Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Ahmad Bin Abdullah Bin Zaid Al-Mahmoud, officially opened the Forum at a ceremony at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
Almost 40 IPAs from around the world were in contention for the Investment Promotion Awards 2012, which covered the period 2010-2011. There were three joint first winners:
• Malta Enterprise. The agency received the prize for its efforts in helping to create and retain more than 950 jobs since January 2010 through innovative investment promotion and investor “aftercare” services, including an impressive re-training scheme for redundant shipyard workers who found new jobs with an aircraft- maintenance company.
• ProMéxico. The agency was congratulated for its work with different partners and stakeholders in promoting FDI. One recent aeronautical investment project was cited in which the agency helped to attract 400 new jobs by fostering partnerships between the investing company and education centres and by helping to implement a joint talent management programme for the aerospace sector.
• The Beijing Haidian Investment Promotion Bureau, for its role in promoting high-tech FDI for high value-added jobs. The Bureau was especially praised for its role in attracting a large-scale information and telecommunication R&D project that created 3,800 new jobs, including many positions for highly skilled employees.
Two further agencies from Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) received prizes as runners-up:
• The Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority was cited for its role in attracting an FDI project in textile and apparels manufacturing which led to 850 jobs.
• The Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) received the prize for its role in facilitating the expansion of a US-based inbound call centre that created 80 new jobs.
The UNCTAD Investment Promotion Awards are given annually to the investment promotion agencies (IPAs) that perform best at promoting investment for sustainable development. This year's awards specifically rewarded excellence in promoting investment for jobs and skills.
The prizes were awarded by H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; 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; Thabo Mbeki, Former President of South Africa; Joaquim Chissano, Former President of the Republic of Mozambique, and Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar, who is the official host of WIF 2012.
The Forum, which continues through 23 April and is taking place in conjunction with the UNCTAD XIII quadrennial conference, will discuss strategies, policies and partnerships at the global level aimed at maximizing the contribution of investment to inclusive and sustainable development, especially in the poorest countries. Sessions of the WIF, as it is called, provide a platform for interaction among global leaders, senior policymakers, corporate executives, investors, investment promotion agencies, and investment experts and practitioners from many countries around the world, the Secretary-General Supachai told Friday’s gathering.
Mr. Supachai warned that although UNCTAD’s 2011 figures for global foreign direct investment (FDI) show that investment flows have surpassed their pre-crisis average, they are still short of its all-time high in 2007 and some regions are recovering more successfully than others. Nevertheless, he said, there are significant opportunities for increasing investment in sustainable development, not least by involving sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), which are a major new stakeholder and are represented in force at this year’s Forum.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar noted the stronger leadership role the Qatari Government has been taking on the international scene, in diplomatic circles and through the promotion of human and cultural rights and the promotion of social and economic progress. He said Qatar’s cooperation with UNCTAD is aimed at advancing the goal of sustainable development, both regionally and internationally. He specifically noted the engagement by the Qatari Government with UNCTAD in the promotion of investment and enterprises for job creation, particularly for women and the young through the Qatar-UNCTAD initiative for young entrepreneurs.
The Deputy Prime Minister said his hopes are that the Forum will lead to broad policy initiatives such as an investment policy framework for sustainable development; specific policy recommendations in a range of areas, for example in the area of accounting and reporting standards; and specific opportunities for promoting investment in sustainable development, including ways and means to encourage and facilitate investment by SWFs in poverty alleviation. He also pointed to the opportunity provided by the Forum for bringing together investors and governments, including investment promotion officials, to encourage investments in the real economy. One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was a cultural event staged to the theme of investment in long-term sustainable development.
Finally, the Deputy Prime Minister noted that the Forum will be an occasion for recognizing success stories in the field of investment, for example through the Women in Business Awards and through the IPA awards.
The Forum already has yielded new opportunities for investment in sustainable development. During the official opening at the St. Regis Hotel, H.E. Ikililou Dhoinine, President of Comoros, discussed investment opportunities in his country with the Chairman of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck. The bilateral meeting resulted in a firm commitment on the part of Nestlé to visit Comoros to evaluate opportunities for investment in the production of vanilla Bourbon, grown organically in Comoros and world renowned for its quality. The Comoros president also agreed to come to Switzerland before the end of the year to continue discussions with the aim of finalizing an investment deal. The value for Comoros of an investment by Nestlé is significant, as direct discussions with Nestlé could provide an opportunity to climb several steps up the global value chain of vanilla processing, to upgrade production, and to help local growers.