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PH to adopt new investment-related agreement in WTO

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Three-fourths of World Trade Organization (WTO) members mark the finalization of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement in Abu Dhabi, UAE on Feb. 25.* WTO website photo

The Philippines is among the 123 World Trade Organization (WTO) members, or three-fourths of the membership, that will adopt the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) Agreement that was finalized on the sidelines of the 13th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Abu Dhabi from February 26 to 29.

The IFD Agreement aims to facilitate the flow of foreign direct investments (FDIs) among participants, especially in developing countries like the Philippines as well as least-developed members, by addressing challenges related to bureaucracy and lack of transparency.

It has four pillars which include improving transparency in investment measures, streamlining and accelerating administrative procedures, efforts to improve cooperation, and providing special and differential treatment to developing and least-developed country members.

“I am confident that the increased transparency provisions and facilitation measures in the IFD will create a more predictable and stable investment environment around the world. In the Philippines, we have started our needs-assessment exercise with assistance from the International Trade Center,” Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual said in a statement Tuesday.

Pascual said the Philippine government has been proactive in attracting more FDIs into the country, as the Marcos administration targets to be the second top FDI destination in Southeast Asia by 2028.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in February 2023 signed Executive Order 18, establishing a “green lane” for strategic investments in all national government agencies and local government units.

The DTI reported that as of January this year, the government has endorsed nearly P1.2 trillion of strategic projects for green lane treatment.

The IFD agreement is also the second investment-related deal in the WTO, following the 1995 Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures.

The IFD agreement is a plurilateral deal, binding only on those members that accepted it, but is still open to all WTO members that would like to adopt the agreement.

“We will continue doing our part in encouraging more WTO Members to partake in our shared goal of maximizing the benefits of the IFD Agreement,” Pascual said.

Trade ministers that represented the 123 countries are also pushing for the inclusion of the IFD Agreement into Annex 4 of the Marrakesh Agreement, which establishes the WTO, to deliver the new deal’s benefits to developed and least-developed countries.*PNA

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