On 2 December, the OECD, the EU and the government of Turkmenistan organised a virtual capacity building to discuss the necessary legal, policy and institutional conditions to set up a successful investment promotion agency in Turkmenistan to support the country’s development agenda.
The webinar was an opportunity to complement the joint work between the OECD and the government of Turkmenistan on Improving the Legal Environment for Business and Investment in Central Asia, which identified the creation of an Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) as a priority area for action . The capacity-building was conducted by Business France, the French IPA, and offered an opportunity to share experiences with peers from Eurasia and OECD countries.
The webinar was opened by Ms Amélie Schurich-Rey, Economist and Policy Analyst inthe OECD Eurasia Division, highlighting that the focus of the government of Turkmenistan on improving support to investors is a timely policy priority in a more competitive post-pandemic global investment climate. Ms Galina Romanova, Head of the State Finances and Economic Policy Department within the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan, welcomed the successful co-operation between the OECD and Turkmenistan as part of the Improving the Legal Environment for Business in Central Asia project. She highlighted how it had accompanied the reform efforts of the government over the past years, before outlining the main steps that have been taken by the country to improve its investment climate. Mr Diego Ruiz Alonso, Ambassador of the European Union to Turkmenistan, reminded participants that even before the pandemic, Turkmenistan struggled with declining FDI inflows and very high concentration of FDI, in terms of both countries of origin and sectors of destination. Investment promotion efforts should therefore be adapted to diversify investment inflows out of the extractive sector.
During the first session, Mr Philippe Yvergniaux, Director of International Cooperation at Business France, discussed essential legal, policy and institutional features to consider when developing an IPA in Turkmenistan, based on the experience of Business France. In particular, he discussed how to combine the different features to build an organisational model and develop missions that are relevant to the country’s priorities and objectives. He concluded by underlining the importance of developing a comprehensive monitoring cycle and considering the larger ecosystem in which the IPA would operate to design an adequate investment promotion strategy.
The second session, led by Mr Salim Saifi, Project Director at Business France, was an opportunity to focus on one specific role performed by an IPA, aftercare services, and discuss how an IPA could contribute to improve the investment climate in Turkmenistan. In particular, he discussed the importance of defining target investors and sectors to focus the priorities of the agency and the services it provides. Drawing on the successful experience of Business France, he then detailed how public-investor dialogue is another important tool for the IPA to contribute to the broader macroeconomic objectives of the country when engaging with investors.
The presentations triggered a lively Q&A, in which Ms Romanova and Mr Yvergniaux discussed in detail the features of Business France. Questions pertained to its statutory independence, its funding, the performance indicators it uses, how it works with the French regions on its core missions, and how it articulates its double mandate of export and investment promotion.
The session was concluded by Ms Romanova, underlining the importance of co-operation with the OECD and the EU, and expressing her willingness to see this co-operation deepen in the year ahead to improve Turkmenistan’s attractiveness to foreign investors.