Post-COVID-19: Investment Promotion Agencies and the "New Normal"

This issue provides an updated overview of the measures that investment promotion agencies (IPAs) have taken in response to the COVID-19 crisis and highlights emerging trends and challenges. It looks at how the agencies have transformed, and which changes are likely to stay after the crisis. It draws from an updated UNCTAD survey of the online response to the pandemic of over 180 national IPAs worldwide as well as webinars with heads of IPAs and IPA associations organized by UNCTAD devoted to investment promotion and the pandemic.

The key message: The pandemic has surfaced the critical role of IPAs. They have shown agility and reactiveness in supporting the evolving needs of investors. Some of the changes that IPAs underwent may last in the “new normal”.

    - IPAs have continued to strengthen their online presence during the crisis (77% of national IPAs worldwide have provided COVID-related information and services through their websites, social media and virtual platforms and tools).

    - The response, however, has been asymmetric and differentials in digital capacity, culture and resources between IPAs have surfaced.

    - Many agencies are moving from online crisis management towards online services and information to support recovery efforts and promote investment to restart economies.

    - IPAs are using social media strategically to enhance and complement their investment promotion and facilitation functions.

    - The offering of investment facilitation and aftercare services by IPAs has expanded. Their enhanced role as troubleshooters will likely remain post-pandemic.

    - IPAs are investing in data to strengthen their functions, including a more robust policy advocacy role.

    - A large number of IPAs are expected to do more with less, and differently. How they perform during these critical times and how relevant they are seen by governments and the investment community may determine their future post-pandemic.

    - Support is needed from the international community to help IPAs from developing countries undertake their transformations to emerge stronger from the crisis.