New book 'Rethinking Bilateral Trade Agreements' launched today
In 1959, Germany and Pakistan signed the first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the world. Without knowing, they marked a new era as many countries have followed their example since then. Currently, the international legal system that governs international investment flows consists of about 3000 BITs and other international investment agreements (IIAs). While originally these treaties were thought to be beneficial for the investor and the host state in terms of economic growth, increased foreign investment and development, many host states have suffered negative consequences instead of benefiting from them.
A new book, published by Madhyam, Both ENDS and SOMO, aims to encourage the collective thinking about BITS and other investment treaties, and to engage all stakeholders – governments, inter-governmental organisations, the private sector, civil society, think-tanks and academia - in this process.
“Almost all investment treaties include a so-called ‘Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism’ (ISDS), allowing investors to sue their host state when changes to regulations threaten to reduce profits. Many countries have already faced unexpected claims against them, because they wanted to implement new laws or rules to ensure financial stability, or to protect the environment or the health of their people,” says Kavaljit Singh, director of Madhyam, New Delhi. “In recent years, a global backlash against BITs has gained momentum and the call to roll back the BIT regime and protect national sovereignty is getting stronger. Several developing countries have already terminated their BITs or are in the process of doing so. And in Europe opposition against the ISDS-system is growing fast amongst citizens as well as politicians", says Burghard Ilge from Both ENDS
The free-to-download book contains 19 distinct analyses by leading experts in the field, covering both national and international perspectives. Some contributions are written by current or former government officials, others are written by legal experts, researchers and economists, think tanks and NGOs. The book covers a wide range of topics – from current trends in investor-state arbitration to the wider ramifications of investment treaties on sovereign debt restructuring, the extractive industry, intellectual property rights and human rights. It is very rare to find contributions by authors from such diverse backgrounds in a single publication.
Fuel the dialogue
“The book fills an important void in our understanding of bilateral investment treaty regime that has evolved over the decades. I hope that this free-to-download publication will trigger a constructive public debate on the nature and the quality of cross-border investments. I am sure that such a debate will facilitate cross-border investment flows which are benign and consistent with the interests of the people at large in the recipient countries”, says E. A. S. Sarma, Former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
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