From 9 to 11 November, IDOS jointly with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat and the International Trade Center (ITC) organized a capacity building workshop on investment facilitation in Vientiane, Lao. The objective of the workshop was to increase awareness of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) negotiations among the stakeholders, enhance understanding of its key provisions, discuss opportunities and challenges for Lao PDR as well as consider follow-up activities to improve the country’s investment frameworks. Among over 30 participants, there were representatives from more than ten authorities relevant for implementing the future Agreement, especially the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI), other line ministries, as well as representatives from national business associations.
While ITC representative shared their experiences on capacity development in investment facilitation and the WTO Secretariat provided an in-depth presentation of the current draft IFD text, IDOS’ researchers Zoryana Olekseyuk and Florian Gitt discussed the opportunities and challenges for Lao PDR induced by the country’s participation and implementation of the IFD Agreement. The discussions were based on the research results of the pilot needs assessments on implementation of core IFD provisions in Lao PDR, Togo and Zambia conducted by a research team within the IDOS postgraduate training programme. The presented results highlighted that among the 13 analysed provisions more than a half has been already partially implemented in Lao PDR, while the rest still lacks sufficient implementation. Thereby, the majority of barriers hindering effective implementation are in the area of procedures, ICT and institutions, which underlines the strong demand for technical assistance and capacity building. Workshop participants concluded that a whole-of-government and multi-stakeholder approach is key for successful IFD implementation and increase of FDI flows.