The officials were speaking at a meeting of UNCTAD's Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission, where the final version of the IPR was presented. UNCTAD has now carried out 35 such reviews at the request of developing countries.
Hassan Ahmed Boulaleh, Minister of Commerce of Djibouti, said: "It was with great interest and sincerity that we welcomed the support provided by UNCTAD, as it offered us a chance to face our weaknesses and make the necessary corrections."
A session at the meeting was devoted to reviewing the IPR, a draft of which had been discussed at a workshop held in Djibouti in January. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, said that in order to reach its goals for foreign direct investment (FDI), the Government of Djibouti needed to further reform its legal and regulatory framework to improve the business environment. At the core of these reforms was the adoption of a new investment code in line with international best practices, he noted.
The review provides a comprehensive assessment of the country's investment-related policies, laws, and overall institutional "context" related to investment. It also assesses the character of past FDI flows to Djibouti and analyses their impact on economic growth. Based on Djibouti's development objectives, the IPR provides a strategy for attracting greater investment and deriving more benefits from it.
The IPR calls for making Djibouti's tax system "friendlier" for small businesses, and for the upgrading of infrastructure to fully take advantage of Djibouti's geographical position. That unique geostrategic location, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia, provides Djibouti with the potential to serve as an important logistics hub and gateway for trade. As such, the country has attracted FDI in port infrastructure and related services. The Government of Djibouti wants to strengthen its lead in the logistics sector, and is also seeking to diversify and increase FDI inflows in line with the country's national development plan.
The IPR advocates greater "customization" of investment promotion for priority sectors such as transport, logistics, fishing, and tourism. It also urges optimal use of institutional resources, notably by strengthening the national investment promotion agency.
In addition, the IPR calls for a streamlining of the institutional procedures for investment promotion in Djibouti. It recommends, in particular, the immediate operationalization of a high-level national platform for dialogue between the public and private sectors on investment-related matters.
Following the meeting, UNCTAD hosted a business networking dinner in collaboration with the Swiss-African Business Circle. The dinner enabled further exchanges between the high-level Government delegation, representatives of the Djibouti's private sector, and representatives of international companies interested in exploring investment opportunities in Djibouti.