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Consolidating International Investment Law: The Mega-Regionals as a Pathway towards Multilateral Rules

  • TANIA VOON (a1)

Pessimism abounds in international economic law. The World Trade Organization (WTO) faces an uncertain future following its Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in 2015. International investment law is under attack in countries around the world, while mega-regional agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are beset by world events, from the United States’ federal election to the unexpected Brexit outcome. Yet the appetite of numerous States to continue forging plurilateral trade and investment deals provides some cause for hope. Viewed alongside other institutional developments including consensus-building work at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, the potential arguably now exists for credible movement towards multilateral rules in investment law. While the WTO's current negotiating stalemate highlights the difficulties in reaching agreement among 164 Members, international trade law offers lessons for working towards multilateralism in the international investment law field. Alongside informal discussions about a world investment court, mega-regionals provide a vehicle for future multilateral investment rules, particularly through the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership currently under negotiation in Asia.

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The first draft of this article was written during my period as Scholar in Residence with the Arbitration Group of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in London (August 2016). I am grateful for the firm's support. This article forms part of independent research funded by the Australian Research Council pursuant to the Discovery Project scheme (project ID DP130100838) and by Melbourne Law School pursuant to the Melbourne Collaborative Project Fund. For helpful comments I thank the anonymous referees, L Alan Winters, Andrew D Mitchell, and the participants at the conference of the PluriCourts Centre of Excellence on Adjudicating International Trade and Investment Disputes: Between Interaction and Isolation (University of Oslo, 25 August 2016) and at the Biennial Conference of the International Economic Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law (Georgetown University Law Center, 30 September 2016). This article expresses my personal opinions as an academic. Any errors or omissions are mine.

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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
  • URL: /core/journals/world-trade-review
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