The world´s leading business organization today embarked on a project with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) designed to help six of the world´s least developed countries (LDCs) become more attractive to foreign direct investors.
The UNCTAD-ICC Project on Investment Guides and Capacity-building for LDCs is being launched today by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and UNCTAD. Participating countries are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Uganda.
Business knowhow and UNCTAD´s expertise on development and investment will go into the preparation of investment guides and the provision of assistance to investment promotion agencies and government officials responsible for investment policy.
The six countries are among 48 LDCs, of which 33 are in Africa. Less than 1% of private foreign direct investment (FDI) goes to these countries. Once the project is well established, the intention is to extend it to other least developed countries.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has described the initiative as "a showcase project" that illustrates the benefits of partnership between the UN and business. . The governments of China, Finland, France and Norway are providing financial support. Leading international and local companies will open a dialogue with the governments concerned on the essentials of a successful FDI regime.
The project has two aims: to provide information on investment opportunities and conditions in the form of guides and to build capacity among relevant government agencies to deal with investment issues. It will focus on the six countries´ investment climate and their potential for more FDI. An important part of the process will be the identification of best practices and optimal conditions to create a favourable climate for FDI.
Investment promotion agencies of the six LDCs are invited to update the guides continuously and to carry the public-private sector dialogue forward. Work on the project will complement and build upon other related work for example, investment policy reviews undertaken by UNCTAD.
Major international companies participating in the project are: Agip, Akzo Nobel, Anglogold, BNP, BAT, Bata, Bayer, BP, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DaimlerChrysler, Ernst & Young, Eskom, Hilton Hotels International, Marubeni, Moving Water Industries, Myungsung International Development, Nestlé, Novartis, Rio Tinto, Shell, Sheraton Hotels International, Siemens, SGS, South African Breweries, Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever, Vodafone.
The project gets underway today with a workshop in Addis Ababa that will bring together government officials, local businesses and representatives of transnational corporations with business operations in Ethiopia.
Says ICC Secretary-General María Livanos Cattaui: "The guides will be an indispensable knowledge tool for the six countries that will enable them to increase foreign direct investment."
Mrs Cattaui added: "The project gives practical expression to the closer working relationship between ICC and the UN system agreed with Secretary-General Annan almost a year ago."
UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero stressed the importance of capacity-building for development and said: "Foreign direct investment can contribute to this, and the LDCs need all the support they can get in this area."