World Investment Report 2019: Special economic zones

By UNCTAD, published by UNCTAD, June 2019

The World Investment Report (WIR) supports policy-makers by monitoring global and regional FDI trends and documenting national and international investment policy developments. The 2019 edition provides an overview of the global landscape concerning Special Economic Zones. In 2018, global FDI flows fell by 13 per cent to USD 1.3 trillion, the lowest level since the global financial crisis. The chapter on international investment policy-making notes that, in 2018, countries signed 40 IIAs and that terminations entered into effect for at least 24 treaties. IIA reform is progressing, but much remains to be done: while countries are increasingly interpreting, amending, replacing or terminating outdated treaties, the stock of old-generation treaties is 10 times larger than the number of modern, reform-oriented treaties. Investors continue to resort to old-generation treaties; in 2018, they initiated at least 71 ISDS cases. Reform efforts are occurring in parallel and often in isolation. Effectively harnessing international investment relations for the pursuit of sustainable development requires holistic and synchronized reform through an inclusive and transparent process. Available at