New ICC Investment Guidelines define investor and government roles

24 April 2012

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has re-issued its Guidelines for International Investment to adapt to new challenges of the international investment environment and to further promote investment as a driver of economic growth.

These revised guidelines – addressed to members of the global business community, government officials and stakeholders – were launched at the World Investment Forum, organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Doha befor several days. 

While the value of cross-border direct investment has grown substantially in the past decade, international investors have reason to be concerned about the impact of recent developments and policies on the free flow of international investment.

“Investment underpins economic growth and has shared value for companies and governments alike,” said Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board for Nestle. “It allows companies to establish themselves in global markets and creates ties between domestic and foreign companies, allowing them to expand their activities and create new jobs.”

The aim of the Guidelines is to facilitate cross-border investment for investors and governments, as well as to harness the vast potential of cross-border investment for stimulating balanced global growth. Trade and investment have the potential to reinvigorate the global economy during the present economic crisis, particularly by driving sustainable growth in developing countries.

“The nature of investment has evolved geographically, with developing economies accounting for more investment inflows and outflows,” said James Bacchus, Chair of the drafting group for the revised Guidelines.
There has been a sharp increase, since the original Guidelines were drafted in 1972, in international investment inflows to, and outflows from, developing and transition economies. In 2010, these accounted for 52% of the total investment inflows and 29% of total investment outflows.

Global inward investment flows now approach US$1.2 trillion and sales of affiliates worldwide are just under US$30 trillion, far in excess of world trade flows. There are also more than 2,800 bilateral investment treaties, many of them south-south.

The contribution of cross border investment to the global economy could however be even greater if the conditions for investment and trade were more effectively set out. ICC has integrated emerging areas of concern for business into the Guidelines, which were first produced in 1949. These issues have been grouped into three categories:

•    Business confidence regarding sovereign debt policies, macro-economic imbalances, taxation, and regulatory uncertainty.
•    Re-regulation of foreign investment.  
•    State-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds.

There have been significant updates to the Guidelines in the chapters on labour and fiscal policy, reflecting the environment for international investment today, and new chapters on competitive neutrality and corporate responsibility have been added.

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