Gold Award:

Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC)

Silver Award:

Toronto Global

Bronze Award:

Invest India

Award Details

The World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA) together with the World Bank Group (WBG) are jointly launching a global competition to find and award international best practices of Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) advocating for reforms to improve the investment ecosystem for foreign investors (FDI).

Research shows that foreign investors attach the highest value to IPA advocacy services that help improve the business environment (World Bank 2020).  The direct day-to-day contacts that these agencies have with foreign investors gives them an excellent advantage in identifying regulatory bottlenecks, policy failures and other gaps in the investment ecosystem, which provides important data that they can use to advocate for reform within their Governments and with other stakeholders. The current COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of advocacy as IPAs continue to be best placed to deliver rapid response through advocating and catalyzing reforms that can mitigate the impact of the crisis and eventually foster more rapid recovery. While international best practice shows that the most effective IPAs are typically not regulators, advocacy is an effective mechanism for IPAs to influence needed reforms. Using their direct contact with investors, IPAs can gather meaningful insights and information that allow them to prepare well substantiated analysis of market and policy failures, draft position papers and promote recommendations for impactful reforms that improve the investment ecosystem.

However, still to this day, IPAs continue to focus most of their resources on the attraction stage of the investment life cycle (Heilbron and Aranda-Larrey 2020) and dedicate only five percent of their budgets to advocacy (Sanchiz and Omic 2020).

Through this competition, the WBG and WAIPA aim to emphasize the key benefits of IPAs’ advocacy services. The competition aims to collect and disseminate IPA advocacy success stories and raise awareness in a way that hopefully inspires more IPAs to play a stronger role in advocating for reforms.

Additional resources:

Heilbron, Armando; Aranda-Larrey, Yago. 2020. Strengthening Service Delivery of Investment Promotion Agencies: The Comprehensive Investor Services Framework. Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation in Focus;World Bank, Washington, DC


Sanchiz Vicente, Alex; Omic, Ahmed.2020. State of Investment Promotion Agencies: Evidence from WAIPA-WBG’s Joint Global Survey (English). Washington, DC


World Bank Group. 2020. Global Investment Competitiveness Report 2019/2020: Rebuilding Investor Confidence in Times of Uncertainty. Washington, DC


The “Strengthening IPA Advocacy Services” competition seeks to recognize those IPAs that implemented effective advocacy services which led to the adoption of reforms that successfully improved the investment ecosystem. The submission should refer to a reform that helped attract, retain or expand investment.

The competition will take place on a yearly basis. The panel of judges will select the best 3 advocacy stories of the Year as well as one honorable mention. The winning submissions will be announced during WAIPA’s Annual World Investment Conferences (WIC). Submissions for the current competition may span a longer period, including reforms implemented between January 2018 and November 2020. Given the recent economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a global decline in FDI flows, specific advocacy measures aimed to fast-track reforms and mitigate the negative effects on economies can also be included in this year’s edition of the competition. Although such examples may be awarded bonus points, COVID-19 related reforms are not required for participation.

Advocacy services eligible to be awarded through the competition

1. Data collection: The IPA coordinates and interacts with investors and private sector representatives to identify the issues limiting foreign direct investment.

IPAs have access to first-hand information from investors. IPAs may design and implement data collection tools such as surveys, interviews and/or meetings with investors and/or industry representatives, and detailed information tracking systems (e.g. investor tracking systems, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, feedback loops, etc.).

Practices that can be measured for the purposes of the competition include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting annual business surveys or targeted ad hoc business surveys to gather general or specific indicators of the investment ecosystem in the economy or a certain sector, either at the national-, or regional-level (e.g. an ad-hoc business survey relating specifically to the effects of the economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic);
  • Instituting open forms of communication with investors (e.g. bi-annual meetings, forums, etc.);
  • Implementing business to government (B2G) feedback loops;
  • Developing joint task forces related to improving the investment ecosystem or for addressing specific challenges (e.g. within a specific sector);
  • Utilizing investor relationship management and tracking systems to record interactions with investors;
  • Implementing investor grievances mechanisms to record and address investor grievances;
  • Developing or publishing cumulative reports from aftercare services;
  • Conducting interviews or establishing other regular forms of communication and data collection with investors; or
  • Designing or implementing other useful data collection practices.

2. Analysis and reform recommendations: The IPA formulates and submits proposals to improve the investment ecosystem based on the feedback received from investors.

To advocate for reforms, IPAs use the data collected from investors to prepare studies and advocacy or position papers. These documents include reform recommendations to improve the investment ecosystem. Such reform recommendations can be provided at both the economy- as well as the sector- level and at the national- or subnational- level. Ideally, the reform recommendations put forth by the IPAs include a description of the market and/or policy constraint identified and an overview of international and/or regional best practices that are known to have solved the problem in other countries. Designing reform recommendations in such a way can help the regulator/stakeholder develop a better understanding of the options available to mitigate the constraint, or better yet, turn it from a weakness to a strength.

3. Channeling and tracking information (and influence): The IPA uses the data and information gathered from investors to influence and follow up on government actions to improve the investment ecosystem for investors in priority sectors.

Practices that can be measured for the purposes of the competition include, but are not limited to:

  • Forwarding reform recommendations to relevant decision-makers in the Government;
  • Meeting with relevant Government agencies to rally support for the measures;
  • joining or even leading task forces or committees dealing with the investment ecosystem and/or specific challenges;
  • Organizing public private sector dialogues or other types of meetings to invite public sector and private sector representatives to discuss the reform recommendations put forth;
  • Obtaining buy in from Industry Associations that may sign letters of support for the reform recommendations put forth;
  • Establish key performance indicators and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of reforms and their impact on the private sector;
  • Update stakeholders and investors about the progress in the reform process, especially when enacted or implemented; and
  • Engaging in other related practices.

Through these efforts, it is hoped that the IPA’s advocacy services will be successfully translated into reforms that meet government objectives for attracting, establishing, retaining and expanding foreign investment, and improving linkages with domestic firms. The connection between the advocacy services and the adoption of the targeted reforms should also be well documented. Given the unprecedented economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, additional points will be awarded for fast-tracking reforms that contribute to mitigating the negative effects of the crisis.

Definitions relevant to this competition

IPA: institution that includes a foreign investment promotion function or mandate (including both dedicated investment promotion agencies as well as units carrying out promotion functions within larger institutions, such as economic development boards or ministries).

Investment ecosystem: The broader environment in which foreign direct investment projects operate. This includes a variety of instruments such as government policies, laws, regulations, administrative procedures, de facto implementation and institutions, pertaining to fields such as investment (also called investment climate), trade, labor, immigration, real estate, taxes, infrastructure, education, innovation and technology and supplier development. Other areas included are: goods and service suppliers, service providers of utilities (water, electricity, gas, telecommunications, internet/broadband), facilities (industrial parks, corporate centers, special economic zones), in addition to infrastructure (rail, roads, ports, customs), quality and costs of production inputs and the functioning of government institutions, including investment promotion agencies, and private sector organizations. The reform submitted must be for the benefit of foreign investors as a whole, or to all investors of a specific sector or clearly defined group. In other words, it cannot be for the benefit of one investor only, as is typically the case when the IPA provides aftercare services.

Advocacy: in investment promotion, advocacy “is about (a) understanding the issues investors face, (b) advocating for reforms on their behalf, and (c) influencing stakeholders to improve the investment ecosystem so investors can operate more efficiently and smoothly”. Investor advocacy services can be complex, but they ultimately contribute to a structured and sequenced plan to influence decision makers to solve investor challenges more broadly and systematically (Heilbron and Aranda-Larrey 2020). More specifically, as defined above, advocacy services include: 1) coordinating and interacting with investors and private sector representatives to identify the issues limiting foreign direct investment and define strategies and actions to address challenges; 2) formulating and submitting proposals to improve the investment ecosystem based on feedback from investors, typically in priority sectors; and 3) influencing and following up on government and others’ actions to improve the investment ecosystem for investors in priority sectors.

The immediate goal of advocacy is to shape an investment ecosystem conducive to attracting and benefiting from FDI. The ultimate goal is to make FDI work for the socio-economic development of the host country.

Qualifying Reform: A targeted improvement in the investment ecosystem. A reform may include the improvement of a process from any stage of the investment lifecycle (attracting, establishing, retaining, expanding, and improving the local linkages to productive private foreign investment). Reforms may entail the removal of barriers or challenges faced by investors in an economy or a sector; the systematization of day-to-day operations of an institution or process that plays a role within the investment ecosystem (e.g. expediting customs clearance, eliminating red tape, removing delays in utility connections); or other improvements that positively affect the broader investment ecosystem (e.g. successful expansion of relevant technical or language skills in the workforce; the expansion of cargo capacity at the airport, etc.). Stronger and more sustainable reforms are often related to improvements in laws and regulations, but non-regulatory types of reforms are also important and qualify (see Heilbron and Aranda-Larrey 2020, and illustrations in Annex 2).

Please note that the qualifying reform must be for the benefit of foreign investors as a whole, or for all investors of a specific sector or clearly defined group. This does not include advocacy efforts conducted for the benefit of one investor only, as is typically the case when the IPA provides aftercare services.

Before applying below, please take a minute to check the overview of the submission form HEREThis can help you prepare the answers as well as the relevant documents needed for a successful submission. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us via [email protected] . Please note that the deadline for sending submissions is March 31, 2021.

Application is now closed.

Advocacy Best Practices

A description of how the challenge was identified. (How did the IPA learn about the bottlenecks, policy failures or market failures addressed through the reform and what data collection tools were used to this goal (i.e. interviews, surveys, feedback loops); 

Since the inception of Invest India (2015 – in the current form), the Agency has strived to attract and retain investments in the country, by offering investors a variety of services. One of the key services provided is helping investors identify suitable location for their projects from the options available across Indian States. This activity is conducted in close coordination with State Government authorities including State investment promotion agencies. During such interactions, it has been observed that States in India differ considerably in their preparedness to deal with investors. Sizable differences were noted in terms of having a dedicated IPA, budget considerations, the skills of experts and support staff, the quality of systems and processes, etc.

Thus, the fact that only a few states have been receiving the lion’s share of the investments was not due to just inherent advantages such as proximity to markets, availability of natural resources or advanced infrastructure, but also due to external factors such as: well-marketed locations, proactive government policies, dedicated teams handholding investors and offering customized support services pro-bono etc.

To address these challenges, Invest India initiated, in 2017, a nation-wide project on strategic assistance and guidance for the development of Indian State Investment Promotion Agencies (State IPAs). The initiative was supported by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the World Bank Group.

In Phase I, a framework including a 55-questions survey and corresponding guidance notes was rolled-out to all State IPAs in the country, in which 21 participated. Over the next six months, field visits were undertaken by the project team to each participating state, to validate and calibrate the data. These visits included one-on-one consultation sessions with State Industries Departments and State IPAs on topics such as creating dedicated agencies for handholding investors, their organisational structure, key activities, terms of reference for staff and hiring strategies, and the concept of relationship management. 21 full reports, customized for, and confidential to each participating IPA were delivered, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and gap areas, and offering recommendations for improvement.

Based on the lessons learned from Phase I, the Phase II of the project (ongoing), focuses on specific areas of improvement. The team prepared a more extensive framework comprising a survey of 74 questions, corresponding guidance notes and scoring methodology. This was rolled out on an ICT platform, custom-built for the project, to which each of the 20 participating State IPAs was given unique log-in credentials. State IPAs were asked to submit authorized documents, videos, and web-links as evidence and responses. The goal is to draft comprehensive reports for each state, with customized recommendations for improvement, and one-on-one technical advisory sessions to take the IPA to the next level of preparedness.

Among its many achievements, the project was successful in motivating State IPAs in adopting globally benchmarked good practices to strengthen their Investment Promotion and Facilitation preparedness. The new procedures implemented by the agencies resulted in a significant improvement in the services delivered to investors.

A description of the advocacy efforts to support the reform (What type of outputs did the IPA prepare for relevant stakeholders (i.e. research notes, policy notes, white papers, legal reviews and amendments, capacity building and/or information sessions, follow up, meetings, consultations, hands-on advocating/“lobbying”, etc.); 

In addition to the assessment reports delivered during the Phase I of the project, the team also organized extensive capacity building activities. Three national capacity building workshops for Indian State IPAs across the country were conducted in partnership with the World Bank Group. The objective was to give Indian IPAs an opportunity to benefit from global expertise and globally benchmarked good practices in key areas of Investment Promotion and Facilitation. In addition, it was important to bring all the agencies on a single platform for experience sharing. To coach the State IPAs on the reforms to be introduced, Invest India prepared and shared templates on topics such as writing an IPA’s strategy, preparing SOPs etc. that could be customized easily to suit the operational mechanisms of IPAs. These were shared during several one-on-one training sessions and capacity building workshops organized for State IPAs.

 A description of the impact of the reform and its results;  

The achievements of this program are considerable: 8 states drafted IPA Strategy documents, 6 states drafted Strategies for Aftercare Services, and 17 states prepared 76 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to institutionalize different processes. Some state IPAs such as those of Punjab and Gujarat, aligned their investment attraction strategy in terms of targeted countries and sectors. A signification improvement was observed in the main investment promotion websites of states such as Kerala. Noteworthy steps in the direction of scaling up the size and value offering of investment promotion teams have been taken by some state IPAs such as those of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Indian State IPAs, such as the one for Odisha, have institutionalized the use of ICT tools such as CRM. State IPAs are increasingly focusing on upcoming areas of interest such as contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and capitalizing on opportunities in hybrid sectors. Today, the role of a State IPA has been recognized as an important factor contributing to ease of doing business in a state.

A description of lessons learned on the importance of the advocacy function generated by this experience.  

The activities conducted under this project during these last three years were an extremely useful educational experience for Invest India. If a State IPA is to create a positive impact on the business environment of a region, policy makers and other critical stakeholders must be brought onboard. During the implementation of the project, Invest India benefitted immensely from the experience and knowledge of global experts in the field of investment promotion and facilitation, as well as from some of the international best practices of other IPAs. While advocating for reforms in State IPAs to State Governments, it was critical to have clear guidelines, templates, case studies, and frameworks that could serve as examples of successful and impactful implementation practices.


Two stage reform to the Free Trade Zone Regime (FTZ} intended to address the OECD-BEPS substance and transparency criteria, as well as potential ring – fencing features:

  • The first stage of the reform was implemented by means of an amendment to the FTZ Regulation (Reglamento a la Ley de Zonas Francas). This reform addressed the substance and transparency recommendations issued by the OECD.
  • The second stage of the reform, addressing potential ring fencing issues, required an amendment to the FTZ Law, which was approved by the Costa Rican Congress.


For over 30 years, the FTZ Regime has proven to be one of the country’s most successful public policy tools on FDI attraction. Over the years, the Regime has helped the country increase its resilience, diversify its exports, transform its productive structure, and generate quality employment.

Moreover, the FTZ is known to be a stable policy tool, providing investors with a clear framework and legal certainty. In this line, the FTZ has been subject to two important reforms:

  • Back in 2008, the FTZ was subject to an amendment driven by the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO} on export related incentives.
  • In 2017, in line with Costa Rica’s participation in the Inclusive Framework initiative of the OECD, the country had to ensure that the Free Trade Zone Regime was BEPS compliant.

For these purposes, in 2017, Costa Rica undertook a technical review process before the OECD with the aims on ensuring  that  the FTZ  did  not  allow  MNE’s to implement aggressive tax planning strategies aimed at exploiting gaps and mismatches in tax rules to avoid paying tax. The  regime  was  therefore  examined under the BEPS principles and standards.

As a result, punctual adjustments were recommended by  the  OECD  to guarantee the compliance of the regime with  BEPS.  The  recommendations  were namely related with substance, transparency and  “ring – fencing”. Countries unwilling or unable to address the potentially harmful features of the Regime, risked being considered a non – compliant country, with its associated impacts on country – reputation, investment climate, as well as international listings.


Since the FTZ amendment process derived from OECD recommendations, it was a government – lead process. However, CINDE actively participated as technical expert; as well as strategic liaison, positioning the amendment process within the key networks. Because of the importance of the FTZ Regime as an FDI attraction and policy tool, CINDE needed to ensure that none of the amendments could negatively impact Costa Rica’s investment climate.

The approval of the reforms, both at a Regulation and Congress Level, made local MNE’s worry about the stability of the Regime. In this sense, CINDE’s leadership on stakeholder management was key to the success of the process. Moreover, the negotiation and calibration of this structural change with established companies, was also coordinated by CINDE.

In sum, CINDE’s policy advocacy efforts in this initiative can be summarize in three key main areas:

  • Technical expert, providing benchmarks, carrying impact and foresight analysis, to ensure the reform did not harm the investment climate.
  • Stakeholder Manager, conveying and positioning the needs and positions of the industries within the process.
  • Strategic Liaison, facilitating and organizing workshops between Government and MNE’s, to ensure proper communication and feedback channels.


Costa Rica was able to successfully adjust its Free Trade Zone Regime and ensure that this fundamental piece in the investment climate is strengthen and remains operational, without negatively impacting the FDI ecosystem. As a result, Costa Rica has a Free Trade Zone Regime, which is considered as fully compliant and aligned with international standards, both from a services and manufacturing standpoint.


As an IPA, it is fundamental to proactively design and implement strategies aimed to positively impact and foster policy transformation and business climate improvement. Thus, CINDE has included policy advocacy as a key topic on is agenda and has undertaken an active role as facilitator and technical expert in dialogue processes. In such, CINDE’s role is namely related with connecting influential networks, leaders, stakeholders and ultimately, decisionmakers, with the aims of addressing relevant policy issues.

As a result of this strategic and proactive process, important policy changes on business climate improvement and facilitation have been implemented, with more on the pipeline.

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