WIR 2012: Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies

05 July 2012

World Investment Report 2012 (WIR12) is the 22nd in a series to be released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at 17:00GMT on 5 July 2012.

​WIR12 presents the latest data on foreign direct investment (FDI) and traces global trends in FDI and in international production by transnational corporations (TNCs). 

Global FDI inflows rose in 2011 to reach US$1.5 trillion. This rise was widespread, covering all three major groups of economies − developed, developing, and transition – but was uneven by sector, mode, and type of investment. In 2012, another marginal increase is expected, with global FDI flows levelling off at US$1.6 trillion, recovering further compared to pre-crisis levels (but remaining some 20 per cent below the 2007 peak). The fragility of the world economy, the volatility of the business environment, uncertainties related to sovereign debt crises, and signs of overheating in some emerging market economies may yet derail FDI recovery.

WIR12 reviews investment policy measures taken in 2011, which show that most countries continue to liberalise and promote foreign investment. At the same time, a stronger regulatory role of governments is becoming apparent, with a growing share of FDI-related restrictions in total investment policy measures. The universe of international investment agreements (IIAs) continues to expand, with an increasing number of treaties showing innovative features.  

At a time of persistent crises and pressing social and environmental challenges, harnessing economic growth for sustainable and inclusive development is more important than ever. Investment is a primary driver of such growth. Mobilizing investment and ensuring that it contributes to sustainable development objectives is therefore a priority for all countries and for developing countries in particular. 

To help policymakers address this challenge, the special focus of this year’s WIR is on investment policymaking. The report presents a comprehensive Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD), consisting of a set of core principles for investment policymaking, guidelines for national investment policies, and options for the design and use of IIAs. 

Investment policymaking is a dynamic process. To take into account new developments and newly arising challenges, the IPFSD has been designed as a “living document”. UNCTAD will continuously update its contents based on feedback from its numerous policy forums and from its work in the field. WIR12 is also accompanied by a web-based platform for the “open sourcing” of best practice investment policies – the “UNCTAD Investment Policy Hub” – an integral part of the IPFSD.