The Political Economy of International Investment Treaties


Event details


Date & time

Friday 19 March 2010


Murdoch Room, Level 1, Old Canberra House, Building 73, ANU


Jonathan Bonnitcha


Angelina Zhang-Li
6125 6409
International investment treaties (IITs) place obligations on host states to provide certain post-establishment standards of treatment to foreign investment. Most IITs also contain investor-state dispute settlement clauses, which make IITs more readily enforceable than other international treaties.

This paper develops a framework for policy analysis of IITs. It identifies, describes and justifies a set of normative criteria by which IITs should be assessed. It then examines the consequences of signing IITs according to the identified criteria. Although this framework was developed to assess the interpretation of vague treaty standards ? such as the common IIT requirement that host states accord foreign investment ?fair and equitable treatment? ? it also provides useful guidance on other policy questions ? such as whether states should sign IITs and, if so, what provisions should be included within them.

The framework shows that the economic case for signing IITs is weaker than is generally supposed. It also suggests that some of the costs of signing IITs have not been adequately understood in the academic literature, particularly the distributive impact of IITs as between the host state and foreign investors.

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