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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