unctad.org | UNCTAD-ICC Investment Showcases: Benin, Comoros, Lao PDR and Zambia
Statement by Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD
UNCTAD-ICC Investment Showcases: Benin, Comoros, Lao PDR and Zambia

09 May 2011

[SPEAKING POINTS - AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY]

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Secretary-General of the International Chamber of Commerce,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to open the investment showcase at LDC IV and to welcome you all to this event.

This morning you will hear from four LDCs: Benin, Comoros, Lao PDR and Zambia on the many investment opportunities available in these countries. Of particular interest to Turkish companies is the case of cotton in Benin and Zambia, as well as textiles in Benin, and tourism and agribusiness in all four countries.

These are countries with huge potential but which have often remained below investors´ radar. These are also countries that have undertaken important economic and regulatory reforms, which have made it both easier to invest in these countries and to protect investments.

However, in most cases, both the investment environment, in terms of regulatory reform, and the many rich opportunities that exist for investors have gone unrecognized. For this reason UNCTAD and the International Chamber of Commerce established the investment guides programme back in 1999 to try to change perceptions.

Since then, 19 guides have been published and in several cases updated. They have proved popular with both governments (their intended clients) and the private sector (their intended target audience). The latest four guides on Benin, Comoros, Lao PDR and Zambia are being launched today for the very first time.

The value of the guides lies in their balanced and objective account of investment conditions in each country. Each guide provides an overview of the beneficiary country, highlights of the three or four principle areas of opportunity, and presents the regulatory framework and its implications for foreign direct investment. The guides also present a summary of the perceptions of the private sector in the country, both foreign and domestic. Furthermore, each guide is discussed and endorsed at a national workshop for the public and private sectors, to ensure their acceptance and wide use.

These most recent guides are being launched after a decade in which LDCs doubled their share of global FDI flows. However, as UNCTAD´s recent report, "Foreign Direct Investment in Least Developed Countries: Lessons Learned form the Decade 2001-2010, and the Way Forward" points out, most of this investment was directed to natural-resource extraction, with relatively few jobs created.

For this reason, the guides focus on sectors such as infrastructure, tourism and agriculture. Investment in these sectors can help LDCs diversify away from dependence on the extractive industries and into areas which have a higher employment intensity, albeit which currently suffer from low productivity. Diversifying the sectoral composition of production and investing in productive capacity in these sectors can bring real development benefits to the countries concerned, as well as healthy returns to investors.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The presentations today are only the first step on the long path to attracting investment. The real work will take place in the follow-up meetings, and the development of networks of contacts. The countries being discussed today are represented at the highest level, and we therefore strongly encourage further interaction between potential investors and government representatives.

I wish you a fruitful session.

Thank you.


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