20 Jun 2017

WTI hosts successful investment conference

The World Trade Institute (WTI) hosted a conference entitled 'Is a Multilateral Investment Treaty Needed?'on 19 June with the support of the World Economic Forum and the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS). Transnational Dispute Management (TDM) was the media partner.

The conference, attended by 85 people, focused on the many important questions emerging from the negotiation of a possible multilateral framework agreement on investment.

Opening the event, Deputy Managing Director of the WTI Professor Manfred Elsig said the conference reflected the “dramatic changes taking place in the investment treaty landscape”.

The conference was divided into four sessions: Background, the EU Proposal, The Relationship with Existing Treaties, and Future Steps.

Ali Dadkhar of Ciuriak Consulting began the first session, chaired by Manfred Elsig, by addressing the question of whether investment agreements promote foreign investment. He was followed by WTI senior researcher Rodrigo Polanco, who talked about the hunt for missing bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and the reasons why they cannot all be found. Malebakeng Forere of the University of Witwatersrand spoke about the move away from BITs and why there needs to be a multilateral investment treaty, while Robert Basedow of the European University Institute talked about lessons to be learned from the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) negotiations in the late 1990s.

Session II, chaired by Ana Novik of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), looked at the EU proposal for a multilateral investment court, with Colin Brown and Maria Luisa Andrisani presenting the rationale for this, and its possible design features. Elsa Sardinha of the National University of Singapore discussed the possibility of using the two-tier investment tribunal system found in the EU-Canada CETA agreement and the EU-Vietnam FTA as the basis for a multilateral effort. She was followed by Anna De Luca of the University of Bocconi and José Manuel Alvarez of Universidad Externado, Colombia.

The relationship with existing treaties was the subject of the third session, chaired by Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer of the University of Basel, with speakers Iryna de Meyer from the Energy Charter Secretariat, N. Jansen Calamita from the National University of Singapore, Martin Björklund from the University of Helsinki and Markus Wagner of the University of Warwick.

The final session, chaired by Nikos Lavranos, European Federation for Investment Law and Arbitration (EFILA), looked at future steps and included presentations by Facundo Calvo of the University of Barcelona, Lise Johnson of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Junqing Chao, University of Hong Kong, and Axel Berger and Wan-Hsin Liu of the German Development Institute and Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

The event closed with a discussion and policy roundtable involving Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder (IISD), Ricardo Meléndez Ortíz (ICTSD), Corinne Montineri (UNCITRAL), Pierre Sauvé (World Bank), and Elisabeth Tuerk (UNCTAD).

It was organised by WTI senior researcher Rodrigo Polanco as part of the SNIS project ‘Diffusion of International Law: A Textual Analysis of International Investment Agreements’ that he coordinates, and which is led by Professor Elsig. The papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication at the European International Arbitration Review.