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Reforming US Investment Policy

Much of GDAE’s empirical work on foreign direct investment, the environment, industrial development, and global capital flows point to the need to reform the investment provisions of global trade and investment treaties that govern foreign investment.  To this end, GDAE researchers formally and informally engage in provide advice and critical analysis regarding the extent trade and investment policy-making in the U.S. and beyond provides ample flexibility for nations to deploy policies for stability, growth, and sustainable development.  With respect to investment rules, GDAE focuses most on the Free Trade Agreements and Bi-lateral Investment Treaties of the United States, as well as at the World Trade Organization. In addition to providing informal advice to elected representatives and their staff, as well as with international institutions
and civil society, GDAE has engaged in the following key activities:

Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Government borrowing has been a feature of the world economy since the founding of nation states, and a cornerstone of the development process as well. However, developing country debt crises are also increasing phenomena. Inevitably, with each financial crisis one or more nations find themselves restructuring or defaulting on its sovereign debt commitments. While an important part of the crisis mitigation toolbox in developing countries, sovereign debt restructuring could be deemed illegal under various trade and investment treaties, especially those negotiated with the United States. GDAE Researcher Kevin P. Gallagher's recent publications examine the extent to which trade and investment treaties restrict the ability of nations to restructure their debt in the event of a crisis.

US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP):  GDAE Researcher Kevin P. Gallagher served
on the investment subcommittee of ACIEP during 2009.  The mandate of the committee was to evaluate the existing US model investment rules
and recommend reforms to the model in the light of the global financial crisis.

Economists Statement on Capital Controls and Trade Treaties:  In a
letter delivered on January 31, 2011, more than 250 economists urged
the Obama administration to reform U.S. trade rules that restrict the use
of capital controls.  GDAE researcher Kevin P. Gallagher and Sarah Anderson, director of the Institute for Policy Studies Global Economy Project, initiated the statement.

Public Statement on the International Investment Regime:  GDAE researcher Kevin Gallagher is one of the initial signers of a letter authored by a broad spectrum of legal and economic experts working on investment treaties.  The signatories “have a shared concern for the harm done to the public welfare by the international investment regime, as currently structured, especially its hampering of the ability of governments to act for their people in response to the concerns of human development and environmental sustainability.”  The letter has expanded to many more signatories and a working group has been established to forward the reforms outlined in the letter.

Key Publications:

Financial Crises and International Investment Agreements: The Case of Sovereign Debt Restructuring, by Kevin P. Gallagher, Global Policy Journal, September 6, 2012.

The New U.S. Model Bilateral Investment Treaty: A Public Interest Critique, contributors include Kevin P. Gallagher and other members of the subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP), May 9, 2012

Mission Creep: International Investment Agreements and Sovereign Debt Restructuring," by Kevin P. Gallagher, Investment Treaty News, January 12, 2012.

The New Vulture Culture: Sovereign Debt Restructuring and Trade and Investment Treaties, by Kevin P Gallagher, IDEAs Working Paper Series, July 2011.

Sovereign Debt Restructuring and International Investment Agreements, by Kevin P. Gallagher, UNCTAD Issues Note, July 2011.

Investment Treaty Arbitration and Developing Countries: A Re-Appraisal by Kevin Gallagher and Elen Shrestha, GDAE Working Paper 11-01, May 2011.

Reforming United States trade and investment treaties for financial stability: The case of capital controls, by Kevin Gallagher, International Institute for Sustainable Development Investment Treaty News, April 5, 2011.

Policy Space to Prevent and Mitigate Financial Crises by Kevin P. Gallagher, United Nations Discussion Paper, May 2010.

Dangers of Unrestrained Commerce,by Kevin Gallagher and Jayati Ghosh, November 2010.

Stop Private Firms from Exploiting Poor States by Kevin Gallagher, The Guardian, February 2010.

U.S. BITs and Financial Stability by Kevin Gallagher, Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, February 2010.

The Future of North American Trade Policy: Lessons from NAFTA, Pardee Center Task Force Report No. 1, November 2009.

The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.


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