Investment is the foundation of economic activity and a necessary prerequisite to innovation, growth of manufacturing and trade.
In 1993, APEC Leaders welcomed the report presented by the APEC Eminent Persons Group, which recommended for APEC to “adopt an Asia-Pacific Investment Code to reduce the uncertainties and transaction costs of trade and investment in the region.” Immediately after, Leaders instructed the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) to develop a set of nonbinding investment principles.
In 1994, the CTI established the Investment Experts Group (IEG) to fulfill this task. The IEG produced the Non-Binding Investment Principles, which were endorsed by APEC Leaders in Jakarta in 1994. As a CTI sub-forum, the IEG has worked to enhance liberalization and facilitation of investment, as well as strengthen member economies’ capacity building through economic and technical cooperation.
Bearing in mind the goal of economic development and prosperity of people across the APEC region, the objectives of the IEG are as follows:
- To undertake work related to investment and report its outcomes to the CTI
- To address issues related to investment and to enhance the liberalization and facilitation of investment in the APEC region
- To enhance capacity building in the area of investment through economic and technical cooperation among member economies in the APEC region
- To support investment promotion activities of member economies to facilitate investment flows in the region
Based on these objectives, the IEG reaffirms two principal pillars of its work as follows:
- International investment regime—principles and practices. This pillar looks at various investment issues and challenges from the perspective of international instruments such as International Investment Agreements (IIAs).
- Investment promotion, facilitation and retention, such as continuing the work on the Investment Facilitation Action Plan (IFAP), Investment Policy Dialogue (IPD), Investment Promotion Agency (IPA), best practice discussions and other crosscutting issues such as global value chains (GVC), public-private partnerships (PPP) and infrastructure.
APEC Non-Binding Investment Principles (NBIPs)
The APEC Non-Binding Investment Principles (NBIPs) demonstrates APEC’s commitment to promoting investment and addressing challenges posed by a rapidly evolving business environment. The NBIPs, originally endorsed in 1994, were successfully revised in 2011.
APEC Strategy for Investment
The APEC Strategy for Investment aims to promote increased investment flows throughout the APEC region. The strategy is implemented under three main pillars:
- Advanced principles and practices
Some of the activities under this strategy include analytical studies on investment practices, following up on the Investment Facilitation Action Plan (IFAP), public-private dialogues on investment, capacity building and information sharing, as well as cooperation with other international organizations.
Leaders' Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards
The Leaders' Statement to Implement APEC Transparency Standards was endorsed on 27 October 2002 in Mexico, and an updated statement was endorsed by Leaders on 21 October 2003 in Thailand.
In the statement, ten items for transparency standards on investment are stipulated.
Last page update: March 2021
Ministry International Trade and Industry (MITI), Malaysia
Email: [email protected]
The Latest IEG Meeting
The Investment Experts Group (IEG) held its first meeting (IEG1) for 2021 on 18-19 February 2021. IEG1 was attended by delegates from 18 member economies and five guests—Colombia (a three-year guest, 2021-2023), Costa Rica (a three-year guest, 2021-2023), the World Economic Forum (WEF, a three-year guest, 2020-2022), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL, a three-year guest, 2020-2022) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The IEG’s continued work is focused on examining investment issues in the APEC region towards the achievement of the Putrajaya Vision 2040.
Regarding Malaysia's first priority, on "Improving the Narrative of Trade and Investment," the IEG included inclusive and responsible business and investment (IRBI) as a permanent agenda item for IEG meetings. In initiating the agenda, Malaysia hosted a Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) on IRBI on 2 November 2020 on the sidelines of the second IEG meeting, which aims to provide a platform among policymakers and the business community across economies in the APEC region to interact and exchange views in promoting and implementing IRBI. The PPD has provided the participants’ greater awareness and understanding on the importance of IRBI—not only to advance the Sustainable Development Goals but also charting our future business and investment strategies as economies entering a post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
IEG Work Plan for the Next Generation Trade and Investment Issues
The IEG developed a Work Plan for the Next Generation Trade and Investment Issues (IEG Work Plan on NGeTIs), a multi-year document which was endorsed by both the IEG and CTI prior to the second IEG meeting 2017. The work plan allows IEG members to track the progress of the group’s work in examining the investment aspects of the existing and potential next-generation issues. IEG members have been working on their selected topics based on existing modalities within APEC and kept consistent with their own priorities. Existing modalities include but are not limited to APEC-funded projects, self-funded projects, researching, publishing or sessions in IEG meetings—and reporting updates at every meeting in future. Under the work plan, members continue to pick up issues for review. Currently, 10 economies are engaged with nine next-generation issues (some economies are engaged on more than one issue, and some issues are addressed by multiple economies).
Investment Facilitation Action Plan
In 2008, APEC Ministers endorsed an Investment Facilitation Action Plan that is aimed at strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of economic growth of APEC’s member economies and making further progress towards achievement of the Bogor Goals. The IFAP includes a comprehensive prescription of actions that can be taken across a range of policy areas and have served as a valuable reference tool for the improvement of the APEC investment climate. The IEG has reviewed the action plan’s implementation progress and published three reports in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
IEG members agreed to continue IFAP implementation through the launch of the fourth phase of IFAP (IFAP IV) with implementation focused on the second, third and fifth principles laid out in the action plan:
- Principle 2: Enhance stability of investment environments, security of property and protection of investors
- Principle 3: Enhance predictability and consistency in investment-related policies
- Principle 5: Build constructive stakeholder relationships.
Through discussions at IEG meetings and intersessional work, 12 out of 21 economies were identified and their updates were submitted. The PSU’s report, “Facilitating Investment in APEC: Improving the Investment Climate through Good Governance” was endorsed by the IEG and published in November 2019. The report found that investment facilitation actions would help stabilize foreign direct investment (FDI) flows and ensure sustainability in the long run, and that a stable investment environment, secure property laws and good investor protection serve as safety nets as well as risk-reducing mechanisms for foreign investors.
At IEG2 2020, members agreed to the work plan for the fifth phase of the Investment Facilitation Action Plan (IFAP V). For the next three years, IEG members will review eight investment facilitation principles agreed upon in 2008 to see if they are still relevant and effective. At the IEG1 2021, IEG members invited representatives of the private sector, such as the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and WEF to share their feedback on IFAP activities, including the results of the IFAP IV Review Report provided by PSU
APEC Investment Commitment Handbook
The IEG made progress on the APEC Investment Commitment Handbook, an initiative led by Australia. The handbook provides an overview of the obligations contained in international investment treaties and the risks that economies face in the event its officials violate these obligations. The handbook was written for government officials at all levels and in all branches (executive, legislative and judicial) and will help them avoid violating international investment obligations, which could potentially trigger international investment disputes. The handbook was endorsed by IEG and published in September 2020.
Support for the Multilateral Trading System
The IEG continues to support the multilateral trading system through discussions with external stakeholders such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as the World Bank about international investment agreements issues. This has paved the way for the investment policymakers of each APEC economy to take stock and utilize what they’ve learned from these discussions in their home economies.
Capacity Building Workshops
The Workshop on Investment and Sustainable Development in a Digital World was jointly organized by the IEG along with the World Economic Forum and the Chilean Investment Promotion Agency on 22 August 2019 in Chile. The workshop fostered an exchange among international organizations such as the World Trade Institute (WTI), United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the WTO as well as among private companies, academia and investment-promotion agencies. The workshop participants discussed cutting-edge developments in international investment policy and practice, and how this impacts the attainment of sustainable development goals. The workshop produced practical, action-oriented steps that may help with achieving sustainable and inclusive investment, drawing from senior levels of policymakers and business executives.
Under the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) work program on investment, China organized a self-funded workshop called “Optimizing Investment Measures in the Asia-Pacific” on 11–12 April 2019 in Shanghai. The workshop’s participants shared best practices and exchanged experiences of policies on investment liberalization, facilitation, promotion and protection.
Australia self-funded a joint World Bank, OECD and APEC workshop on investment policy reform in June 2019. The workshop covered data collection and analytics; gender, social inclusion and sustainability; investment promotion; and options to increase domestic value-add from foreign direct investment. The discussion underscored economies’ views on policy reform efforts and associated impacts. A policy report highlighting the key points of discussion was developed as an ongoing resource and circulated through the IEG.