Recent Developments in the IIA Regime: Accelerating IIA Reform

This IIA Issues Note identifies recent developments related to international investment agreements (IIAs) and IIA reform.

Several notable developments took place in 2020 and 2021 that continued to rationalize the IIA regime, by consolidating bilateral investment policymaking and accelerating regional rulemaking. These developments include the entry into force of the EU agreement to terminate all intra-EU bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and the emergence of new megaregional IIAs, as well as other developments that continue to influence international investment rules such as multilateral discussions for the reform of the ISDS system.

In 2020, countries concluded 21 IIAs, over half of which were rollover agreements concluded by the United Kingdom. As in 2019, the number of effective treaty terminations in 2020 exceeded that of new IIAs, with 42 terminations. By the end of the year, at least 2,646 IIAs were in force.

Reform-oriented clauses significantly permeate IIAs concluded in 2020. UNCTAD launched its IIA Reform Accelerator in November 2020 to support the reform process.

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