New strategies are needed to help channel FDI into growth-enhancing and job-creating activities worldwide, according to a gathering of investment promotion agencies (IPAs) which took place in Milan this week.

The annual meeting of the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) brought together more than 100 IPAs from around the world as well as heads of financial institutions, some leading political figures, private sector leaders, prominent economists and researchers.


Vice minister of economic development for Italy, Carlo Calenda, in his closing remarks at the conference, emphasised the importance of drive and goal-setting in terms of FDI. “We have to be more ambitious in reaching our FDI goals globally because the world needs more investment,” he said.

The WAIPA event took place alongside Expo Milan, a massive world exhibition that attracts millions of visitors during its six-month run. The official theme of Expo Milan is 'feeding the planet, energy for life' and, in line with this, WAIPA panellists discussed the role of FDI in promoting and stimulating agriculture and agribusiness as an economic development and poverty-alleviation tool.

“WAIPA is working with governments around the world to remove barriers to investments across all sectors, especially those that pertain to feeding the planet,” said Arda Ermut, president of WAIPA and Invest in Turkey (ISPAT). IPAs voting at the WAIPA general assembly elections selected ISPAT to continue with the presidency of the organisation.

The agenda also focused on issues such as the role of FDI in stimulating aggregate demand and countering the slump in global economic growth; the effects of multilateral ınvestment agreements in global FDI inflows; and best practices in FDI promotion to enhance the quality of human capital and physical infrastructure. The conference also focused on supporting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation as a means of generating employment and contributing to global peace and stability.

Buoyed by increased investor confidence and despite the many challenges that still constrain FDI flows, a largely upbeat vision of the world’s current possibilities was shared by many of the speakers, the list of which included the director general of UNIDO, Li Yong; Nobel laureate Michael Spence; world-renowned economist, Jean-Paul Fitoussi; board chair of the International Economic Development Council, Joann Crary; and UNCTAD’s director of the division on investment and enterprise, James Zhan.