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Policy Brief 13-1

The World Needs a Multilateral Investment Agreement

by Anders Aslund, Peterson Institute for International Economics

January 2013


A gaping hole in the current global economic architecture is the absence of a multilateral agreement on foreign direct investment (FDI). A multilateral investment agreement (MIA) was discussed extensively from 1970 to 1998 but never concluded. However, the need for such an agreement has increased in the last decade. FDI has grown substantially and now flows in both directions between developed and developing countries, with multinational corporations (MNCs) hailing from all parts of the world. The numerous bilateral investment treaties warrant an international standardized set of rules for FDI. With investment now clearly identified with MNCs and integrated with trade, the World Trade Organization has emerged as a natural home of an MIA.

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