The Minister was speaking at the launch of the framework which was attended by more than 100 participants from government, the media, the private sector, and academia, at the Mandela Institute, in Johannesburg, on July 26.
Today, Africa is one of the fastest growing regional economies and offers the highest rate of return on investment of any region. South Africa, the continent's economic powerhouse, is currently developing a new investment and industrial policy aimed at upgrading and strengthening its competitiveness, and is listed by the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2012 as one of the top prospective host economies for foreign direct investment in the next two years.
Mr. Davies emphasized the IPFSD's timeliness for policymakers worldwide and for developing countries in particular. The UNCTAD framework puts sustainable development at the core of a new generation of international and national investment policies, which aim to foster responsible business conduct and provide guidance to policymakers around the globe.
Professor Stephen Gelb, of the Edge Institute, Johannesburg, and a discussant at the launch, also emphasized the importance of the IPFSD for investment policymaking in countries like South Africa.
In addition to launching the IPFSD, UNCTAD experts were in South Africa to train SADC investment policymakers how to put the IPFSD into practice. For SADC and South Africa, it is an opportunity to put sustainable development issues at the heart of its regional investment initiative, and to strengthen South-South regional integration.
In the wider context of reflection about global economic governance, the field of international investment also faces ongoing questions about investment governance which the IPFSD seeks to address. For example, numerous attempts are under way to find a coherent approach to the proliferation of international investment treaties that now amount to a global 'spaghetti bowl' of more than 3000 treaties.
"In this context UNCTAD can play a vital role" the Minister noted. "Its unique record of work on investment […] places it at the forefront of the global debate, and the IPFSD offers us a strong point of departure for international cooperation in the area of international investment policy making"
UNCTAD has been active in galvanizing momentum for action on this issue, which was also extensively discussed at the Ministerial level at UNCTAD's World Investment Forum, in April 2012, in Doha, Qatar. The forum provides a transparent and inclusive platform for consensus building on investment policy that draws on the views of governments, the private sector, other relevant multilateral institutions and civil society.
"We appreciate UNCTAD's IPFSD as a timely and pragmatic tool for policy makers at a critical juncture of investment policy transition. [It] marks another example of the unique leadership UNCTAD provides in development thinking on investment, following the World Investment Forum held during the UNCTAD XIII Conference, in Doha, Qatar in May 2012", the Minster concluded in his remarks.
In a separate meeting, the Minister and Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, identified three areas of potential collaboration between UNCTAD and South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry:
(i) strengthening South Africa's investment promotion capacity in line with the country's industrial and development strategy.
(ii) developing investment treaties towards a new generation of [international] investment policies, including in the context of investment-related regional integration initiatives.
(iii) deepening an understanding of the development impact of global value chains, with a view to fostering sustainable development.