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Full Report ( 143 Pages, 575.0 KB )


Today, all countries seek foreign direct investment to advance their development process. They have therefore shown keen interest in promoting and protecting such investment through national and international policy instruments. Part of these efforts involve the adoption of bilateral treaties for the promotion and protection of foreign investment.

The United Nations has analysed bilateral investment treaties over the years as part of its work on foreign direct investment, presently carried out by the Division on Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It has published two comprehensive analytical studies on this subject, in 1988 and 1998. It also updates the list of bilateral investment treaties and monitors developments on an annual basis; the updates are reported in various publications, notably the World Investment Report and International Investment Instruments: A Compendium. From time to time, UNCTAD publishes a comprehensive list of bilateral investment treaties. It furthermore assists developing countries that so request in the organization of events during which bilateral investment treaties can be negotiated.

The 1990s saw a rapid increase in the number of bilateral investment treaties, and, by the end of the decade, the universe of these treaties looked dramatically different from that of previous decades. The number of treaties quintupled during the decade, rising from 385 at the end of the 1980s to 1,857 at the end of the 1990s. The number of countries involved in bilateral investment treaties reached 173. At the same time, the number of such treaties concluded by developing countries and Central and Eastern European countries have between themselves experienced a sharp increase, from 63 at the end of the 1980s to 833 at the end of the 1990s. All of this suggests that bilateral investment treaties are playing an increasingly important role in international investment relations worlwide, including in South-South cooperation.

The present booklet is intended to document these trends and provide a snapshot of the universe of bilateral investment treaties signed by the end of 1999. The list of bilateral investment treaties is preceded by a brief introduction highlighting significant recent developments. It is meant to complement the analytical and technical cooperation work on bilateral investment treaties being undertaken by UNCTAD.

Geneva, December 2000 Rubens Ricupero
Secretary-General of UNCTAD


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