Services trade and investment needed for recovery and sustainable growth in developing countries

13 septiembre 2023
ITC News
ITC Deputy Executive Director attends China International Fair for Trade in Services and China International Fair for Investment and Trade

“Services trade, especially when digitally delivered, holds vast potential for developing countries, and more technical assistance is needed for building an enabling policy environment and strengthening the capacities of small businesses,” said Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), held in Beijing this month.

For the services sectors to remain competitive, open markets and domestic reforms are essential as they build companies’ and investors’ confidence to do business. China is moving in this direction, removing regulatory restrictions, shortening the negative list for foreign investment, expanding pilot zones to cover more cities, and concluding additional free trade agreements. All these efforts play a crucial role in reducing trade costs, improving the country’s business environment and attracting more and high-quality foreign investment.


Updating global trade rules

Updating the rulebook for global trade is also important in support of e-commerce and digital trade. Participating in ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) initiatives, including in e-commerce, services domestic regulation and investment facilitation, promotes the development dimension in rulemaking processes and ensure that the outcomes support greater small business participation in global trade.

ITC is an international partner agency of CIFTIS. Through contributions by China’s Ministry of Commerce, ITC has supported over 60 services companies from developing countries in attending CIFTIS business exhibitions, while offering trainings and networking events that helped them to tap into the services market in China.


Strengthening investment facilitation

While in China, Deputy Executive Director Tembo also attended the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) in Xiamen.

“Small and medium-sized businesses will particularly benefit from investment facilitation: with many investment procedures today being costly, complex, and unpredictable, they often lie outside the reach of small business with limited resources. That should now change,” said Tembo highlighting the importance of the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement (IFD) at the WTO, which recently concluded its text negotiations.

The Agreement provides an international benchmark for good practices in facilitating investment, including enhancing transparency and streamlining administrative procedures, which will make investment easier, faster and safer, and helping developing countries attract more investment.

ITC has been supporting WTO Members on IFD negotiations through a dedicated project, which provides capacity building and policy advisory services to policymakers and negotiators and brings private-sector perspectives into the discussion. So far, over 65 events have benefited more than 6,000 participants.

ITC will continue helping developing countries conduct investment facilitation self-assessments, which as a first step in the IFD Agreement will provide a comprehensive overview of a country’s investment facilitation measures and identify areas for improvement.