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*Columbia FDI Perspectives*
Perspectives on topical foreign direct investment issues
Editor-in-Chief: Karl P. Sauvant ([log in to unmask])
Managing Editor: Riccardo Loschi ([log in to unmask])

*The Columbia FDI Perspectives are a forum for public debate. The views
expressed by the authors do not reflect the opinions of CCSI or our
partners and supporters.*

No. 307  June 14, 2021
*Increasing transparency in investment facilitation: focused support is
Karl P. Sauvant and Nancy N. Stephen* <#m_5638520913996982482__edn1>

The WTO negotiations on an Investment Facilitation Framework for
Development (IFF4D) are in an advanced stage. A key objective is to improve
transparency regarding investment facilitation procedures. One would expect
host countries seeking to attract FDI to have a self-interest in being
transparent about their FDI regulatory frameworks and related matters: it
reduces transaction costs for investors and facilitates locational
An assessment of a selective sample of 60 countries[1]
<#m_5638520913996982482__edn2>—57 WTO members and 3 observers—provides
insights on the extent to which countries currently make FDI information
easily available, electronically, to foreign investors. These insights are
based on desk research limited to the websites of investment promotion
agencies (IPAs),[2] <#m_5638520913996982482__edn3> the principal agencies
tasked with investment facilitation and often the first-best option for
foreign investors to obtain detailed information on a country’s investment
framework. These are the results:

   - *Laws and regulations*. Fourteen countries out of the 60 examined make
   texts of their FDI laws and regulations available, with some of them
   however providing only partial information. Two seemingly provide links to
   their FDI laws and regulations, but these are defective.
   - *Administrative rulings*. Only one country provides the text of
   FDI-related administrative rulings.
   - *Procedures* *for setting up a business*. Thirty-five countries
   provide summaries of the procedures foreign investors need to follow to
   invest in their economies, with one country providing only a partial
   - *Entry conditions*. Thirty-five countries list these conditions, but
   only 20 discuss the procedures for meeting these conditions. Some countries
   detail entry conditions, but not on their IPA websites.
   - *Fees/charges associated with FDI entry*. Twenty-seven countries
   specify these.
   - *Contact information of competent authorities*. Most countries provide
   some form of contact information (email address, online contact forms,
   telephone numbers): 39 countries provide their IPA email addresses and 10
   the email addresses of IPA officials.

More broadly, a few countries have defective links to documents or tabs
that may provide relevant information, while others either do not have
easily accessible IPA websites or do not make certain investor information
available to the general public.

Overall, developing countries are better in providing electronic texts of
their FDI laws and regulations; the Africa region dominates this category.
The least developed countries (LDCs) covered in this survey do not perform
as well as other developing countries across the different regions. Among
developing countries, fewer Asian countries provide information on FDI
procedures compared with counterparts in Africa. All countries provide the
information in at least one official WTO language.

These results are sobering. After all, making this kind of information
easily available electronically is neither very difficult nor expensive. It
is, in fact, quite basic; and, as mentioned before, it is in the
self-interest of countries to make this information available to investors.

Hence, the results suggest that both developed and developing countries
have work to do to enhance transparency. If other and more complicated
measures were to be added—including measures that help directly to increase
FDI’s development impact (e.g., supplier-development programs) that ought
to feature in an IFF4D[3] <#m_5638520913996982482__edn4>—developed
countries could be expected to perform much better when compared to
developed countries. This is, indeed, clearly documented elsewhere.[4]

The implications are clear: many countries must make substantial efforts to
strengthen their investment-facilitation capacity. Developed countries and
some advanced developing countries can do that on their own, at least in
most cases. But many other developing countries, and especially the LDCs,
simply do not have the resources to do so. They need substantial technical
assistance to considerably strengthen their investment-facilitation
capacity to be successful in the highly competitive FDI world market. They
will need such capacity also because future investment treaties will
contain investment-facilitation provisions, and because separate
investment-facilitation agreements will be negotiated.

As to the IFF4D, developing countries, and especially LDCs, need to know
that, if and when they sign on to this agreement, they can count on
extensive technical assistance to implement their commitments. The time to
make firm and substantial commitments on technical assistance is now.

* <#m_5638520913996982482__ednref1> Karl P. Sauvant ([log in to unmask])
is Resident Senior Fellow, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, a
joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute, Columbia
University; Nancy N. Stephen ([log in to unmask]) is a third-year
law student at Columbia Law School. The authors are grateful to Axel
Berger, Ali Dadkhah and Sara Fialho Esposito for their helpful peer reviews.
[1] <#m_5638520913996982482__ednref2> Fifteen countries each in Africa,
Asia and Latin America (including 11 least developed countries); and 15
developed countries.
[2] <#m_5638520913996982482__ednref3> Other websites may contain relevant
information, e.g., focal-point websites or official gazettes. They were not
researched for this *Perspective *as its focus is on “easily available*” *
[3] <#m_5638520913996982482__ednref4> For examples of such measures, see Axel
Berger and Karl P. Sauvant, eds., *Investment Facilitation for Development:
A Toolkit for Policymakers* (Geneva: ITC, 2021)
[4] <#m_5638520913996982482__ednref5> Axel Berger, Zoryana Olekseyuk and
Ali Dadkhah, “Quantifying investment facilitation at country level:
Introducing a new index” (Bonn: DIE, forthcoming)
*The material in this Perspective may be reprinted if accompanied by the
following acknowledgment: “Karl P. Sauvant and Nancy N. Stephen,
‘Increasing transparency in investment facilitation: focused support is
needed,’ Columbia FDI Perspectives No. 307, June 14, 2021. Reprinted with
permission from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (*
A copy should kindly be sent to the Columbia Center on Sustainable
Investment at **[log in to unmask]* <[log in to unmask]>*.*

For further information, including information regarding submission to the
*Perspectives*, please contact: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment,
Riccardo Loschi, [log in to unmask]

*Most recent Columbia FDI Perspectives*

   - No. 306, Priyanka Kher, Trang Thu Tran, Sarah Hebous, ‘Reducing
   regulatory risk to attract and retain FDI,’ Columbia FDI Perspectives, May
   31, 2021
   - No. 305, Munir Akram, “Mobilizing FDI for sustainable infrastructure
   investment,” Columbia FDI Perspectives, May 17, 2021
   - No. 304, Anne van Aaken and Diane Desierto, “The Hague Rules on
   Business and Human Rights Arbitration,” Columbia FDI Perspectives, May 3,

*All previous FDI Perspectives are available at

Karl P. Sauvant, Ph.D.
Resident Senior Fellow
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Columbia Law School - Earth Institute
Ph: (212) 854-0689
Fax: (212) 854-7946
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*Karl P. Sauvant, PhD*

*Resident Senior Fellow*
*Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment*
Columbia Law School - The Earth Institute, Columbia University
435 West 116th St., Rm. JGH 825, New York, NY 10027
| p: (212) 854 0689 | cell: (646) 724 5600 e: [log in to unmask]
| w: | t: @CCSI_Columbia

"Increasing Transparency in Investment Facilitation: Focussed Support is
Needed", "A Multilateral Investment Facilitation Agreement can Help
Advancing Development", *Investment Facilitation for Development: A Toolkit
for Policymakers*, "More Attention to Policies! Improving the Distribution
of FDI Benefits. The Need for Policy-oriented Research, Advice and
Advocacy", "More and Better Investment Now!", "Facilitating Sustainable FDI
in a WTO Investment Facilitation Framework: Four Concrete Proposals",
Enterprises and the Global Investment Regime: Toward Balancing Rights and
Responsibilities”, “The *WIR* at 30: Contributions to National and
International Policymaking", "An Inventory of Concrete Measures to
Facilitate the Flow of Sustainable FDI: What? Why? How?", "Insulating a WTO
Investment Facilitation Framework from ISDS", "The Case for an Advisory
Centre on International Investment Law", "The Potential Value-added of a
Multilateral Framework on Investment Facilitation for Development" are
at .

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