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Think Piece

Toward a Multilateral or Plurilateral Framework on Investment

November 2015
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Against the backdrop presented by the growth of emerging market economies as major exporters and importers of investment capital and evolving debate on the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) feature of the international investment agreements, this think piece calls for the establishment of a Multilateral Framework on Investment (MFI), with a transitional plurilateral framework on investment (PFI) to start with. In particular, it addresses three fundamental questions: Why now? What kind of contents should such a framework include? And, how can this goal be achieved?

The paper considers that the MFI or PFI should be based on a systematic reform of the IIA regime “from root to rules,” reflecting the fundamental shift of tension “from North-South divide to private-public debate.” The outcome should be a balanced and liberal investment regime rectifying the deficiencies in current IIAs, from the preamble to definitions, from substantive to procedural rules, and from investment norms to relevant social clauses. The 2016 G20 Summit would provide a good opportunity for the proposals related to an MFI/PFI to be brought for consideration by world leaders. The WTO remains the best venue to negotiate such an MFI/PFI, while a trilateral investment or free-trade agreement between the US, the EU, and China could provide a solid stepping stone.

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