Investment Policy Monitor No. 24

The Monitor finds that 52 economies took 96 investment policy measures during this time. Almost half of these measures (45 per cent) introduced new regulations or restrictions for foreign investment. This is the highest ratio in almost two decades. Almost all new measures in this category address national security concerns as countries adopted new or reinforced their existing FDI screening regimes in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Several countries further liberalized foreign investment in various sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, the pharmaceutical industry, transportation, financial services and digital media. Some countries facilitated and promoted investment by, inter alia, establishing more investor-friendly approval mechanisms or granting new incentives.

Countries signed at least 15 international investment agreement (IIAs), bringing the total number of IIAs to 3,312 by the end of December 2020. At least five terminations of IIAs took effect during the reporting period. Newly concluded IIAs continue to include reform-oriented provisions in line with UNCTAD's policy recommendations found in its Reform Package for the International Investment Regime and its IIA Reform Accelerator.

The reporting period saw other important developments relating to international investment policymaking. These include, notably, the entry into force of the EU agreement for the termination of intra-EU BITs, the entry into force of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Agreement in principle on the EU-China comprehensive agreement on investment as well as the African Union declaration on the risks of investor-State arbitration relating to COVID-19 measures.

Several notable developments also took place at the multilateral level including continued discussions on investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) reform in UNCITRAL; the release of the second revised draft of the binding treaty on business and human rights; and the commencement of formal negotiations for a multilateral investment facilitation framework in the WTO.

Investment Policy Monitor No. 24 (UNCTAD/DIAE/PCB/INF/2021/2)
09 Feb 2021