Contributions to the World Investment Report

UNCTAD's World Investment Report (WIR) provides data and analyses trends in foreign direct investment (FDI) worldwide, at regional and country levels; it discusses developments in national and international investment policymaking and explores key and emerging issues related to foreign investment and its contribution to development. WIR also offers a statistical annex with data on FDI flows and stocks for 196 economies. The WIR is published annually (first release: 1991)

The IIA Section provides IIA specific expertise to WIR, by offering:

  • An annual update on trends in IIAs and ISDS cases.
  • An overview of important investment policy developments which are set to define the future policy agenda.
  • An examination of the IIA-related aspects related to the WIR's annually defined special theme.

Past contributions of the IIA Section addressed the following topics:


World Investment Report

International investment policymaking is in transition

By the end of 2012, the regime of international investment agreements (IIAs) consisted of 3,196 treaties. Today, countries increasingly favour a regional over a bilateral approach to IIA rule making and take into account sustainable development elements. More than 1,300 of today's 2,857 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) will have reached their "anytime termination phase" by the end of 2013, opening a window of opportunity to address inconsistencies and overlaps in the multi-faceted and multi-layered IIA regime, and to strengthen its development dimension.

UNCTAD proposes five broad paths for reforming international investment arbitration

This responds to the debate about the pros and cons of the investment arbitration regime, spurred by an increasing number of cases and persistent concerns about the regime's systemic deficiencies. The five options for reform are: promoting alternative dispute resolution, modifying the existing ISDS system through individual IIAs, limiting investors' access to ISDS, introducing an appeals facility and creating a standing international investment court. Collective efforts at the multilateral level can help develop a consensus on the preferred course of action.

Download: WIR 2013


World Investment Report

IIA regionalism is on the rise

With a total of 47 IIAs signed in 2011, traditional investment treaty making continued to lose momentum. In quantitative terms bilateral agreements still dominate, while in terms of economic significance regionalism, with its opportunities and challenges, is on the rise.

Sustainable development is making its way into IIAs

While some of the recent IIAs keep to the traditional model and focus on investment protection as the sole objective, others include innovative elements. These include features to ensure that the treaty does not interfere with, but instead contributes to countries' sustainable development strategies.

The unfinished agenda of ISDS reform

Following the increasing number of ISDS cases, including cases that challenge public policies, some States have been expressing their concerns with today's ISDS system. Based on the perceived shortcomings of the system, a number of suggestions for reform are emerging. However, a systematic assessment of individual reform options and their feasibility, potential effectiveness and implementation methods remains to be done.

Download: WIR 2012


World Investment Report

The IIA regime is at the crossroads

With its numerous treaties, on-going negotiations and dispute-settlement mechanisms, the IIA system has come close to a point where it is too big and complex to handle for governments and investors alike. Yet, it remains inadequate to cover all possible bilateral investment relationships.

Managing the interaction between IIAs and industrial policy

Industrial policies are supported by FDI promotion through IIAs, in particular when the respective IIA has sector-specific elements. To avoid undue policy constraints, a number of flexibility mechanism have been developed in IIAs, e.g. exclusions and reservations for certain industries.

The role of IIAs for Non-equity modalities of investments (NEMs)

IIAs are not designed to cover NEMs which do not involve an (equity) investment and hence miss the element that typically triggers IIA application. While there is no comprehensive legal and policy framework for fostering NEMs and their development contribution, supportive international policies include relevant WTO agreements, soft law initiatives, and, to a limited extent, IIAs.

Download: WIR 2011


World Investment Report

Rebalancing between the rights and obligations of the State and investors

The IIA system is rapidly evolving, with countries actively reviewing their IIAs. Rebalancing between the rights and obligations of the State and investors and fostering coherence between IIAs and other policy domains has become a key policy challenge.

Securing IIAs' contribution to climate change mitigation

Countries need to maximize benefits and minimize risks from low-carbon investment, based on their individual social and economic conditions. IIAs can contribute to synergizing investment promotion and climate change mitigation through e.g. low-carbon investment promotion elements or environmental exceptions.

Download: WIR 2010

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