Investment Policy Monitor No. 18

The Monitor finds that 38 countries took 60 investment policy measures between May and October 2017. The share of liberalisation, promotion and facilitation measures reached 78 per cent - broadly in line with the average in recent years. Developing countries especially in Asia and Africa took the lead in adopting these policies.

Among the most important policy measures are the adoption of new investment law in Egypt, the introduction of a new Investment Industry Guidance Catalogue in China, as well as FDI liberalisation in Mexico (air transport service) and Saudi Arabia (engineering). Some countries established new Special Economic Zones or improved existing incentives schemes therein (Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Kenya, Morocco, Mexico, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe).

Six countries (China, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russian Federation and the United States) adopted investment policy measures related to national security. In addition, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania introduced some investment restrictions related to natural resources.

Regarding international investment policies, the reporting period saw the conclusion of five new IIAs bringing the total number of IIAs to 3,323. The first 11 months of 2017 saw the conclusion of just 12 new IIAs, the lowest number of IIAs concluded over such a time-frame since 1983.

The reporting period saw diverging approaches to international investment policymaking. On the one hand, negotiations for mega-regional agreements gained momentum (particularly in Africa and Asia). On the other hand, a number of BITs were terminated and the termination of others took effect.

New IIAs refine their scope and application, clarify key protection standards and include exceptions and improve investor-State dispute settlement clauses. The reporting period also saw the entry into force of the "Mauritius Convention on Transparency" and discussions about a possible Multilateral Investment Court.

The investment and development community convened at UNCTAD’s Annual IIA Conference to share experiences and chart the way forward on reforming the existing stock of old treaties following the UNCTAD’s 10 Options for modernizing old-generation IIAs. The Conference recognized the importance of addressing the interaction and coherence between the national and international dimensions of investment policymaking - issues that could be taken up in the next phase of IIA reform.