The Changing IIA Landscape: New Treaties and Recent Policy Developments

This IIA Issues Note on the changing IIA landscape reviews new treaties signed in 2019 and recent policy developments.


  • In 2019, the number of terminated international investment agreements (IIAs) (34) exceeded the number of new IIAs (22). This brought the total to 3,284 IIAs and 349 effective terminations. By the end of the year, at least 2,654 IIAs were in force.
  • Several other developments will affect the international investment policy landscape, including the agreement by EU member States to terminate intra-EU bilateral investment treaties, Brexit and the entry into force of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.
  • Policy responses taken by governments to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout could create friction with existing IIA obligations. This highlights the need to safeguard sufficient regulatory space in IIAs to protect public health and to minimize the risk of investor–State dispute settlement (ISDS) proceedings, while protecting and promoting international investment for development.
  • Progress on the reform of the IIA regime is visible in treaties concluded in 2019. Nearly all new IIAs contain features in line with UNCTAD’s Reform Package for the International Investment Regime, with the preservation of States’ regulatory space being the most frequently seen area of reform. Countries also continued to implement ISDS reform elements in new IIAs. To support the IIA reform process, UNCTAD will launch its IIA Reform Accelerator later in 2020.

This IIA Issues Note accompanies research and analysis included in the recently launched World Investment Report 2020.

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