International Investment Agreements and Industrial Policy

Presentation by Aaron Cosbey, Associate and Senior Climate Change and Trade Advisor, International Institute on Sustainable Development (IISD)

Presentation | 15 March 2013
Almost all middle income countries have signed a number of international investment agreements (IIAs), both as stand-alone treaties and as constituent elements in broader free trade agreements. While the resulting heterogeneous patchwork of treaties defies general description, there are some elements that many agreements have in common, and which may present problems from the perspective of states seeking to practice industrial policy. The vacuum of multilateral governance in the area of investment law complicates the prospects for any quick fixes, but that does not mean progress is impossible.
The presentation addresses the following guiding questions:
• What specific types of policies might be proscribed by IIAs?
• How big a problem is this? Are those policies actually desirable, effective?
• How might IIAs be written/revised so as to allow for the policy space necessary for governments to pursue effective new industrial policy?
• Even if new IIAs follow such a template, what are the challenges to revising the thousands of existing IIAs?

Workshop on "Boosting economic dynamics and job growth: the potential of industrial policies" organized by the ILO and the Geneva Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) 4-5 March 2013.