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International Agreements

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in trade agreements are crucial to opening markets for investment, attracting quality investment, and ensuring the fair treatment of foreign direct investment.  The United States is party to several investment agreements, but we are well behind many of our key trading competitors in terms of the network of nearly 3,000 investment agreements in place globally. 

It’s important that the United States makes negotiating investment agreements a top international economic priority.

Commentary on Investment Agreements

  • ICC Releases Policy Statement on Trade Agreements - March 2016
    In March, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Executive Board released a Policy Statement titled "Mega-regional trade agreements and the multilateral trading system" adopted at the ICC Executive Board meetings in the Hague on March 15. The statement outlines the ICC's stance on the relationship between regional and multilateral trade liberalization, and provides recommendations for governments on how to multilateralize trade agreements. 

  • Duke Law Journal: Predicting Outcomes in Investment Treaty Arbitration - December 2015
    Susan Franck, Washington and Lee University School of Law, and Lindsey Wylie, University of Nebraska, co-authored article for the Duke Law Journal entitled "Predicting Outcomes in Investment Treaty Arbitration," which explores the concerns surrounding the inclusion of ITA's in trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and investment Partnership (TTIP). By examining the outcomes of 159 final ITA cases  from 272 publicly available ITA awards, findings showed that states won a majority of said cases and the mean investor success was around 35%. 

  • Heritage Foundation Voices Support for ISDS; Against Proposed EU Changes - July 2015
    In an issue brief on International Law, authors Theodore Bromund, Ph.D., James Roberts, and Riddhi Dasgupta, PhD, of the Heritage Foundation argue in favor of including an ISDS mechanism in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  The authors claim ISDS is essential in enforcing trade agreements, and calls on the U.S. to reject the EU Parliament's proposal to establish a permanent investment court. 

  • UNCTAD Report Confirms Credibility of ISDS - May 2015
    On May 18, the United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released an annual review of the investor-state dispute mechanism (ISDS). The report highlights the necessity of ISDS in future investment and trade agreements, and contradicts many popularly-held beliefs by ISDS critics.     

  • International Investment Agreements: Frequently Asked Questions - May 2015  
    The Congressional Research Service (CRS) in May released a report addressing frequently asked questions regarding international investment agreements (IIAs).  In addition, the report addresses common questions related to ISDS mechanisms in IIAs.

  • VIDEO: Gary Hufbauer Defends ISDS - May 2015
    In a short video, Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), explains the ISDS measures in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Hufbauer tackles and refutes several criticisms against including ISDS measures in the TPP, while also addressing three criticisms that he believes are legitimate.

  • Chamber Releases New Publication on ISDS - April 2015
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a new paper earlier this week in an effort to address the ongoing debate over international investment and the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in trade agreements. The paper, titled "Cross-Border Investment: International Agreements and Dispute Settlement", includes information on ISDS in trade agreements and BITs, and provides background information on the benefits of cross-border investment.  Also included is a section addressing 13 common myths on ISDS.

  • International Law Experts Respond to Alliance for Justice ISDS Letter - April 2015
    Earlier this month, over forty international law professors sent a letter to House and Senate Leadership to counter the Alliance for Justice (AFJ) letter signed by law professors encompassing their objections to including ISDS measures in trade agreements. This letter provides counter points to the AFJ letter, sent to Congressional leadership in March, meant to frame the debate by providing accurate information and enable policy makers to make informed decisions on the ISDS mechanism. 

  • VIDEO: Fair Play: Investor-State Dispute Settlement - April 2015   
    Earlier this week, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released a video on the importance of including ISDS measures in trade agreements.  The video states ISDS measures act as an impartial referee between parties involved and ensures "fair play" for both the home government and investors.

  • USTR Release New ISDS Fact Sheets - March 2015
    Earlier this month, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released a new FAQ sheet on the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms in developing trade agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  This list of questions and answers address the most asked questions and misconceptions regarding ISDS.  Additionally, USTR has released a new fact sheet on ISDS and is available here.

  • An ISDS Reality Check from CSIS - January2015 
    The CSIS Scholl chair released their full report on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).  In “Investor-State Dispute Settlement: A Reality Check,” Scott MIller and Gregory Hicks of CSIS review ISDS based on the dispute records of existing provisions and addresses the overblown criticisms against such provisions.  Overall, the report recognizes that ISDS inclusion is a “major advance” for fair treatment of foreign investors and peaceful dispute resolution.

  • BIAC: ISDS an Indispensable Element - January 2015
    In January, the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BAIC) to the OECD released "Investor'State Dispute Settlement - An Indispensable Element of Investment Protection" outlining the necessity of ISDS mechanism in the TTIP agreement. BAIC states that US and EU businesses are concerned about the highly politicized debate surrounding ISDS, and argues that ISDS measures would protect foreign investors from unfair discrimination without interfering the host country's ability to establish regulations in other sectors.  In addition, BAIC encourages the OECD Investment Committee to take a more active role in leading investment issues.

  • A Case for ISDS from American University - December 2014
    Government officials and NGO's across the EU and U.S. are concerned that the inclusion of an ISDS instrument in the TTIP agreement will potentially increase litigation of the home country and undermine public policy. In "A Case for Investor-State Arbitration Under the Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership", Jessi Patton of American University Washington College of Law argues that critics' fears of ISDS measures are overblown and fail to realize the existing US-EU relationship decreases the risk of more investor-state arbitration cases. 

  • ECIPE Occasional Paper: Demystifying the Investor-State Dispute Settlement - June 2014
    The European Centre for International Political Economy has released a paper on a recent study of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) activity over the last decade.  The paper focuses on the impact of ISDS on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), identifies which sectors are experiencing ISDS growth, and the consequences should the EU bows to criticism and walks away from current Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with the US.  

  • CSIS: BITs in Africa - June 2014
    Greg Hicks, State Department Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), released an article about the potential role Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) between African nations and the U.S. can play in strengthening the rule of law in these nations, improving relations, and creating a better standard of living.   African countries have, for decades, been associated with "a weak adherence to the rule of law" and as a consequence have been less attractive to foreign investment.  Hicks points out that the U.S. Model BIT contains provisions addressing adhering to the rule of law, and suggests that BITs between the U.S.  and African nations using the US Model BIT would create a better investor climate in Africa and raise the standard of living.

  • BDI Releases New Repot on Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) - May 2014
    In April, BDI of Germany released a report entitled "Background: Facts and Figures- International Investment Agreements and Investor- State Dispute Settlement." The number of ISDS cases around the world has been on the rise, and critics are growing evermore vocal about their fears that ISDS gives investors power to challenge state laws. 

  • International Council on Commercial Arbitration Keynote Address  - April 2014 
    In his speech, Judge Schwebel advocates for the necessity of international investment arbitration and addresses the many criticisms against its value and counters them with the merits of such arbitration as well as Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

What are investment agreements?

Where does the United States rank in investment agreements?

  • BIT Brochure - U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Spring 2010
  • BIT Ad - U.S. Chamber of Commerce - Spring 2010

Investment Provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 

USTR Fact Sheets

U.S. Model BIT Text

Investment Agreements in Force

U.S. Tax Treaties

The United States has entered into tax treaties with foreign countries for over 70 years.  Tax treaties are designed to encourage cross-border investment and economic activity.  They provide a way to resolve taxation disputes between countries, help authorities enforce tax laws, and reduce barriers to foreign direct investment, such as double taxation and high withholding tax rates. 

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