The twenty-fifth World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) World Investment Conference was held alongside the virtual World Investment Forum 2021. In the wake of COVID-19 it discussed “Regeneration of IPAs in a new decade” — the crucial importance of IPAs during and after the pandemic that has had an impact on lives and economies globally. Bringing together IPAs from all over the world, government officials, development sector leaders, decision makers from the private sector and academia relevant to FDI policy and strategy, the World Investment Conference via several panels reviewed the past two and a half decades of investment promotion, debated the rise of digitalization and the importance of data-driven investment promotion, and aimed to examine how investors and locations alike benefit from IPAs and how IPAs are able to highlight their role further as a critical element in the promotion and facilitation of investments.
Panel 1: A quarter century of investment promotion: Success stories and the future outlook
An overwhelming majority of IPAs were created after 1990.This surge of institutions specializing in investment promotion in the 1990’s also influenced the creation of WAIPA under the auspices of UNCTAD in 1995. Slightly over a quarter of a century later we look at how the work of IPAs has changed, with agencies emerging and disappearing over the last few years, what international institutions can do to assist agencies, how their work has been impacted by COVID-19 and how IPAs can even expand their crucial role in promoting and facilitating investments into their countries or regions.
 WAIPA. (2019). “Overview of Investment Promotion: Report of the Findings from the WAIPA Annual Survey of 2018.” WAIPA, Geneva.
Panel 2: Data-driven investment promotion: How data influences the world of IPAs
As in most areas of life, data, their management and use, are becoming increasingly important issues for investment promotion. Data help agencies to prove the value of their work by referring to numbers collected on FDI, at the same time data help agencies to take decisions more effectively and even to create leads for further investments. This panel will look how important the collection of accurate data is and how IPAs can use data to their benefit.
Panel 3: Business-oriented IPAs: High-end services and added value for investors
IPAs are an important link between business and governments. As agencies are usually linked to the government, they understand the dynamism within government structures; yet being in contact with investors on a daily basis at the same time, it is crucial for agencies and their employees to speak the same language as the investor. This unique position has also made IPAs of vital importance during the COVID-19 pandemic that has imposed a difficult situation on many companies. This panel will examen how investors see the functions of IPAs, how governments may utilize IPAs more strategically and effectively and how IPAs are able to highlight their role further as valuable elements in the promotion and facilitation of investments.
In light of the above, since the establishment of WAIPA the idea of createing a body that brings private sector expertise to the WAIPA member IPAs has been fully supported by the Steering Committee as well as the General Assembly of WAIPA. In line with the Association’s strategy issued by its General Assembly, the proposal for a private sector advisory body gathered momentum and led to the decision of the Steering Committee, in April 2020, to recommend the establishment of a Business Advisory Board.
The private sector will play an important role in the work of WAIPA in establishing best practice and helping IPAs to enhance their corporate capacity and provide the best possible assistance to the private sector before, during and after their investments. The private sector understands the need to put the United Nation’s SDGs on its priority list, and that projects that can generate sound rates of return can at the same time have optimal socio-economic impacts.
Awards ceremony: Strengthening IPA Advocacy Services 2021 Awards
Partner: World Bank Group (WBG)
WAIPA together with WBG jointly launched a global competition to identify and award international best practices of IPA advocating for reforms to improve the investment ecosystem for foreign investors.
Through this competition, WAIPA and WBG aim to emphasize the key benefits of IPAs’ advocacy services. The competition aims to collect and disseminate IPA advocacy success stories and raise awareness in a way that hopefully inspires more IPAs to play a stronger role in advocating for reforms.
The winning IPAs will be selected by a jury consisting of delegates from WAIPA, WBG, UNCTAD and the World Economic Forum and awarded during the twenty-fifth WAIPA World Investment Conference.