Investment and services

Investment and services are crucial to realizing the intertwined goals of sustainable development and corporate growth. The evidence shows that foreign direct investment (FDI) can generate not only capital and revenue, but also jobs, knowledge, technology, innovation, upgrading and especially inclusive, sustainable and responsible growth. At the same time, services account for more than two-thirds of global GDP and six out of every ten jobs.

Yet none of this is automatic. It depends on creating the right business environment and regulatory frameworks, underpinned by international agreements, national policies, domestic procedures and specific measures. For instance, the cost of trading services is more than twice the cost of trading goods indicating the significant room for improvement. In addition, in recent times geo-economic competition and technological change pose new and growing challenges to these benefits.

In this context, the Investment and Services initiative brings together business and government to address these challenges and unlock the potential of investment and services, informed by experts, experience and evidence.

Efforts are aimed at maximizing positive effects – and minimizing any negative effects – of investment and services flows on the economy, society and environment. This is achieved by reforming existing rules, creating new international frameworks, identifying supportive policies and measures, and implementing these in practice through in-country projects. Projects are under way in Azerbaijan, Namibia, Pakistan and Rwanda, and have been completed in Cambodia, Ghana, India, Kenya and Papua New Guinea.

The work takes place on four inter-connected levels:

Subnational: Understanding the role of subnational investment institutions, policies and measures in support of sustainable development, and how to align these with national frameworks

National: Collaborating with ministries, development boards, investment promotion agencies, firms, civil society and academics through a multistakeholder process to identify, validate and implement country-level reforms

Regional: Leveraging learning from the national and subnational levels to inform regional cooperation (including at the level of the AfCFTA, APEC, ASEAN, etc.) and sharing insights with policymakers through workshops and trainings

Multilateral: Informing and providing implementation support to the WTO outcomes on Investment Facilitation for Development and Services Domestic Regulation, G20 Trade and Investment Working Group initiatives, and other high-level engagement to help drive international cooperation

The initiative is further divided into five workstreams:

Investment facilitation: What are the most important investment facilitation measures to include in international frameworks, including a Draft WTO Agreement on Investment Facilitation for Development, and how can this agreement improve investment climates? Estimates by the German Institute of Development and Sustainability place the potential global welfare gains at between 3-4%.

Services facilitation: How can business and governments leverage a new WTO outcome to facilitate services trade, especially in emerging markets, including telecoms, banking, entertainment, etc?

Sustainable investment and Climate FDI: What are the most important policies and measures to advance the sustainable development impact of investment flows? How can FDI help achieve climate goals?

Digital FDI: What are the policy and regulatory enablers to attract FDI to grow the digital economy, whether growing new digital activities, encouraging digital transformation or providing digital infrastructure?

Outward FDI: How can policymakers work with firms to identify policies and measures that support outward investment while maximizing benefits for both home and host economies?

A new World Investment for Development Alliance (WIDA) was launched in Davos in May 2022 bringing together leading organizations in this area as a mechanism to grow cooperation and collaboration.


The initiative receives financial support from business and the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO).

Contact: Matthew Stephenson ( and Khalid Alaamer (


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