USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly led a small but vocal team of international business representatives at the November 13 annual High-Level Experts Group on International Investment Agreements (IIAs) at the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. In a room dominated by developing country and NGO reps and academics, Donnelly was the sole business speaker on the opening keynote panel. Donnelly also joined a French business delegate on the key follow-up panel on “Reforming Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).” Other panels included business representatives from USCIB’s BDI colleagues (German industry group) and from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
“In both my presentations, I emphasized a business view on the need for strong investment protections to help reduce risk and mobilize much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) flows,” said Donnelly. “With limited public finance and official development aid resources, FDI is key to global economic growth and progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, strong IIAs are key to mobilizing FDI. In turn, strong ISDS provisions are essential to effective IIAs.”
According to Donnelly, on the ISDS panel, he was able to rebut a European Commission official who was pitching, as they are in multiple fora these days, their proposal for a standing multilateral investment court to replace the well-established ISDS arbitration system.
“UNCTAD can be a challenging organization, often promoting unhelpful non-market views, but in the investment area it offers a unique opportunity for good dialogue with developing country officials and a platform to confront unhelpful EU initiatives,” he added.