MNE Declaration and trade and investment

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (2015) on financing for development highlights the importance of international trade and investment as a means to promote productive employment and decent work, and to contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). It encourages businesses to adopt principles for responsible business and investment. The Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (ILO MNE Declaration) makes reference to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda in its preamble.

The MNE Declaration underscores the potential substantial benefits to home and host countries of international direct investment and trade, including contributions to the more efficient utilization of capital, technology and labour. It also stresses, however, the importance of suitable measures to ensure that FDI contributes to SDG 8 on inclusive economic growth and decent work, particularly for lower income groups and less developed areas. Governments also should ensure that investment incentives help to advance SDG 8.

Government policies to attract foreign direct investment and promote trade provide important entry points for advancing decent work, and trade and investment agreements increasingly make reference to the MNE Declaration, especially where these agreements also aim to promote responsible business conduct.

Therefore, and in order to ensure policy coherence and synergies, the ILO has developed a range of activities and partnerships with international organizations to support governments’ efforts to maximize the decent work contribution of FDI and to harness trade for decent work. This work builds on the guidance provided in the MNE Declaration to governments, social partners and (multinational) enterprises. And it is carried out in partnership with international organizations with complementary competencies concerning trade and investment for sustainable development, including UNCTAD, UNIDO and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA).

Further expanding the impact of these partnerships, ILO became a member of the World Investment for Development Alliance (WIDA) in April 2023. WIDA's main objective is to promote sustainable investments by leveraging pluralistic partnerships to create a conducive global environment for sustainable investments. Other member organizations include the International Trade Centre (ITC), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), the World Bank Group (WBG), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN-ESCAP, African Union, Academy of International Business, and the World Economic Forum (WEF). ILO’s membership in WIDA will create further opportunities for collaboration and synergies on linking more effectively investment attraction and facilitation to sustainable development goals and decent work priorities.

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