Antalya, 26 May 2016 – A private sector forum on investment opportunities in least developed countries was convened today in Antalya, Turkey. The Forum was held by the Government of Turkey and the UN Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States in cooperation with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA). It was convened on the eve of the high-level comprehensive midterm review of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), a framework adopted by the United Nations five years ago, which highlights the priorities and sets out concrete action through which the worlds least developed countries can alleviate poverty, including through a vibrant private sector, the engine of growth.
The one day Forum brought together about 300 participants and speakers from the least developed countries, investment promotion agencies, private sector, financial institutions and investors.The forum highlighted the challenges that least developed countries face in attracting sustainable foreign direct investment and the
opportunities that exist in least developed countries. Experiences of the national investment promotion agencies in these countries point to the need to be proactive, seek value addition, better integration into global value chains, as well as coherence and creativity in country branding. The role of public finance including, the important role of official development aid in leveraging additional private finance was also highlighted.
“Improving the business climate and providing a transparent regulatory environment remain key ojectives for these countries”, said Gyan Chandra Acharya, UN Under-Secretary- General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. “At the same time development partners of the least developed countries and their investment promotion agencies can very usefully provide specific support to their counterparts in the least developed countries”.
WAIPA CEO Bostjan Skalar spoke of the need for investment agencies to come together and focus on serving investors efficiently. He stressed that “60% of new investment comes from already present foreign investors in the country, and therefore, investment agencies should focus on improving after-care services.”He also underscored that many IPAs are beginning to understand the importance of sustainable investments, a trend that WAIPA strongly advocates.
Many speakers emphasized the importance of international support to increase the flow of sustainable investment to the LDCs in order to realize the aspiration of the the IPoA and the sustainable development goals. The need to ensure inclusive growth and increase the focus on small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs was a main theme in the discussion. The role that vocational training can play in providing practical and context driven solutions was also highlighted. The importance of a better alignment and coordination between trade and investment policy at the national level was also underscored.
The need for a conducive environment at the national level in LDCs based on good governance and political leadership to encourage foreign direct investment was highlighted, including by means of autonomous and empowered IPAs. Finally, many speakers stressed the need for enhanced corporate social responsibility by investors
“We are pleased that the forum allowed for a frank exchange on a number of key issues including on the opportunities that do exist in least developed countries as well as the challenges that prevent these same countries from meeting their sustainable development aspirations”, said Mr. Acharya. “It contributed to launching the high-level midterm review by setting the scene for the next three days with a focus on practical examples and on-the- ground solutions on how investment in these countries can be better promoted.”