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Informing the UN's investment agreements

Manchester Met research steers international discussions

Prof Heinz Tüselmann

PROFESSOR Heinz Tüselmann of Manchester Metropolitan University was recently invited by the United Nations to attend and contribute to its multi-annual Expert Group meeting on reforming international investment agreements, which was held at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.

UNCTAD is the United Nations body responsible for dealing with development issues, particularly international trade and foreign investment – the main drivers of development.

This particular Expert Group meeting was to design new frameworks around reforming international investment agreements in order to make them work better for sustainable development, and inclusive growth for developing countries in particular. 

The meeting included high-level experts and senior officials from the investment and development community. This included governments and inter-governmental organisations, ambassadors, the private sector, civil society and academia. Examples of institutions represented include the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Commission, the Organization for Economic Development Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.

Inward investment

The research conducted at Manchester Met’s Centre for International Business and Innovation (CIBI) contributed to the Expert Group meeting. Especially useful was the large-scale surveys on the role of inward investment upgrading on national and regional economic development and industrial transformation.

The research conducted by the CIBI highlights that current policies aimed at harnessing foreign investment for local capacity building, economic development and industrial upgrading tend to be naive and too broad. These policies do not take into account the complexities of internationalisation processes in multinational companies and their strategies and objectives. This also holds important lessons for the role of inward investment in relation to the Northern Powerhouse initiative and the Greater Manchester devolution agenda.

The discussions and outcomes of the Expert Group meeting in Geneva will subsequently feed into the United Nations’ 14th World Investment Forum, held on July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Heinz is Professor of International Business and Director of the CIBI, which brings together recognised scholars in international business, international political economy and innovation studies in a dedicated research centre. He is a member of the United Nations (UNCTAD) Expert Group on Investment for Sustainable Development.

Tuesday, 19th April 2016