New York, N.Y., April 12, 2016 – In the face of growing populist rhetoric from some quarters calling into question the very nature of global trade, investment and private sector-led growth, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has issued a ringing defense of foreign investment as a driving force in improving people’s lives around the world.
In its statement, Foreign Direct Investment – Promoting and Protecting a Key Pillar for Sustainable Development and Growth, the Paris-based global business body – which encompasses companies from all sectors in some 130 countries, developing as well as developed – voices its strong support for FDI as an effective tool to foster economic growth and sustainable development. ICC calls on governments to both maintain and strengthen investment protection and promotion agreements, including the investment provisions now common in many U.S. free trade agreements.
The statement was released by ICC’s American national committee, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB).
“A key lesson from the past half century and more is that investment, including foreign direct investment, is crucial in influencing a country’s overall prospects for economic progress and prosperity,” said James Bacchus, the former chief judge for the World Trade Organization and former U.S. Congressman who chairs ICC’s Commission on Trade and Investment Policy, which developed the paper. “Countries that put in place strong, well-considered policies both to promote and protect investment, and ensure the rule of law, benefit more from FDI as well as from domestic investment. Those countries have more effective institutions and higher standards of living.”
The ICC statement encourages governments to pursue high-standard bilateral and regional investment agreements. These important agreements should continue to include strong dispute resolution provisions, through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) with independent proceedings to settle investment disputes, the paper says. It further proposes that, in the longer term, an equally high-standard multilateral framework on investment could further foster FDI in support of growth and sustainable development.
Other key messages from the ICC policy statement include:
- Discrimination is never a good idea. ICC calls on national governments to avoid any sectoral restrictions in investment agreements coverage or access to dispute settlement.
- Governments around the world should give greater attention to investment challenges related to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) so as to ensure a level playing field when private companies (domestic or foreign) compete with SOEs.
- National security or “essential security” reviews by governments should be narrowly focused on true national security issues and not become an excuse for discrimination against foreign investors.
- All governments should avoid “forced localization” requirements against foreign investors.
“We need sensible policies to promote and defend FDI in order to meet the numerous challenges we face in the years ahead,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter M. Robinson. “This strong and timely policy statement, coming as it does from the leading global business organization, provides a useful contribution to the ongoing debates on investment, investment agreements and, more specifically, ISDS. We urge policy makers in the United States and other nations, as well as the policy community more broadly, to read and digest its recommendations.”
ICC is the largest, most representative business organization in the world. Its global network comprises over six million companies, chambers of commerce and business associations in more than 130 countries, with interests spanning every sector of private enterprise. A network of ICC national committees mobilizes and supports business in its interactions with governments and international organizations around the world. The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G20 and many other intergovernmental bodies, both international and regional, are kept in touch with the views of international business through ICC. More at www.iccwbo.org.
USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and regulatory coherence. Its members include U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world. With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, including ICC, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment. More at www.uscib.org.
Jonathan Huneke, USCIB
+1 212.703.5043, firstname.lastname@example.org