EXPERT MEETING on
COMPARING BEST PRACTICES FOR CREATING AN
ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO MAXIMIZING
DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND
INVESTMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND
COUNTRIES WITH ECONOMIES IN TRANSITION
Geneva, 24-25 September 2007
Session III: Roundtable on Best Practices -
Mr. James Zhan
Head, Policies and Capacity-Building Branch, Division on
Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development,
EXPERT MEETING ON COMPARING BEST PRACTICES FOR CREATING AN
ENVIRONMENT CONDUCIVE TO MAXIMIZING DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS,
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND INVESTMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES AND
COUNTRIES WITH ECONOMIES IN TRANSITION
GENEVA, 24-25 September 2007
Session III: Roundtable on Best Practices – Implementation issues
Mr. James Zhan
Head, Investment Policies and Capacity-building Branch
Chair, ladies and gentlemen,
In this last session of our expert meeting we wish to concentrate on the question of how
information on best practices can be turned into "policy" toolboxes that are useful and
informative for decision-makers in developing countries and economies in transition, and how
they can best be disseminated for wide-spread adoption and adaptation.
As our chair, Mr. Ahomka-Lindsay, alluded to in his opening remarks, quoting the former UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, it is appropriate and in the interest of development for the
United Nations to look into how business finds its solutions. As we discussed this morning,
it is indeed the business-based approach of the Harvard Business School Case studies
methodology that we would like to adapt to policy-making issues in the area of investment.
• The Harvard Business School Case method goes beyond the "know-what" and
describes in detail the "know-how". Our series of case studies will try to accomplish
the same in the field of investment policy.
• The Harvard Business School Case method is designed to challenge students and
business executives by bringing them as close as possible to "real life" business
situations. Our cases studies will do the same for policy makers.
• The Harvard Business School cases prepare learners for future managerial decision-
making. Our cases will accomplish the same for decision-makers in investment policy.
• The Harvard Business School cases form the basis of the most advanced business
learning, not only at Harvard Business School itself, but in many other institutions that
use HBS cases to add a real-life perspective to their business administration classes.
UNCTAD's series of cases will become the basis of new technical assistance work
In other words, UNCTAD's best practice approach will follow the Harvard Business School
cases methodology not only in terms of preparation, but also in terms of distribution and
dissemination – with the ever so important difference that UNCTAD will not charge its
clients to learn.
Based on similar dissemination principles, UNCTAD will "operationalize" its research and
policy analysis for the benefit of decision-makers in developing countries and "feed" its
lessons learnt through its years of technical cooperation experience back to them. This
includes developing specialized technical assistance materials and courses for policy-makers
on the themes and aspects discussed in this meeting and making them as accessible as
possible. It will, in the long-term, also include a new form of technical assistance to
developing countries and economies in transition wherein we will go and help the country
adapt and adopt the most suitable best practice available.
This constitutes a new and fresh approach to our policy advisory and capacity building work.
As you know, the G8 called on UNCTAD to join hands with the OECD in this endeavour.
How could this work in real life?
In my view, this could be based on the two organization's different dimensions to investment
policy issues. I understand that the OECD's approach to best practices – and we will learn
about this in a minute from Mr. Michael Gestrin from the OECD Secretariat – is based on its
query-based Policy Framework for Investment that is used to derive at PFI "Users" toolkits to
help countries implement good policy practices for healthy investment climates. This
constitutes a "top down" approach so to speak.
UNCTAD's approach to best practices is based on our vast technical assistance and policy
analysis experience, including our Investment Policy Reviews, which we will use to derive at
a best policy practices inventory. It is hence outcome-based, with a focus on FDI and all
countries, in particular developing countries. This is a bottom-up approach so to speak.
Both approaches can meet in the middle. In other words, these two approaches strike me as
being complementary and mutually reinforcing – both in terms of distilling best practices, and
in terms of applying them through dissemination and distribution.
The same holds true for regional initiatives such as the New Partnership for African
Development (NEPAD) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) framework. I
am happy that we have with us Mr. Roy Nixon in his capacity as the Convener of the
Investment Experts' Group of the APEC Committee on Trade and Investment to give us his
views on this matter.
Having talked a lot about business at the outset of my remarks, it is only fitting that I came
back to business in my closing. We have with us in this roundtable Mr. Ken Waller, who is a
Senior Advisor to the APEC Business Advisory Council. I am sure he will enlighten us on
the business perspective on best practices, and on the role international organizations, such as
UNCTAD, should play in this regard.
The benefit of developing an inventory of best practices is in providing tools for countries to
adapt and apply them to their national objectives and circumstances.
It is against this objective that we would like the panel and the subsequent speakers from the
floor to address three questions:
1. What other mechanisms should UNCTAD consider to assist this process apart from its
established research and policy analysis, and country level advice and capacity
2. How can officials involved in executing best practice policies be engaged in assisting
other countries to apply these experiences?
3. How can regional and other international organizations help disseminate findings and
provide practical support to implementation, including in collaboration with