The EU’s foreign investment screening mechanisms became operational on October 11, 2020. As we’ve reported, guidance on the screening mechanisms, which are implemented by individual member states, was released in March 2020 following the 2019 entry into force of the FDI Screening Regulation.
EC suggests withdrawal is a possibility as Energy Charter Treaty modernization negotiations continue
On December 2, 2020, in an answer to questions submitted by MEPs, the EC suggested that the EU could exit the ECT.
On November 15, 2020, 15 Asia-Pacific countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) nearly one year after negotiations came to a close.
On November 9, 2020, the Asian Academy of International Law hosted a virtual event on the use of mediation in investor–state dispute settlement. This event is one of several being organized by UNCITRAL in parallel to the formal meetings of the Working Group III on investor–state dispute settlement reform.
UNCTAD’s IIA Reform Accelerator launched in November 2020.
Negotiators working on multilateral reform of the ISDS system will reconvene on October 5 to 9, 2020, in Vienna for their 39th session. This session, which was originally to be held in March and April 2020, was rescheduled in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 31, 2020, the Cypriot parliament voted against the ratification of CETA, the trade deal between the EU and Canada.
The U.S. and Kenya formally launched negotiations on the US–Kenya FTA on July 8, 2020. If concluded, the agreement would be the first bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and a sub-Saharan African state.
European Commission initiates infringement proceedings against the UK and Finland for failing to terminate intra-EU BITs
On May 14, 2020 the EC initiated infringement proceedings against the UK and Finland for failing to terminate the intra-EU BITs to which they are a party. Though the UK has formally left the European Union, EU law continues to apply to the UK during the transition period, which ends on December 31, 2020.
Following two years of “structured discussions,” the negotiations for a proposed WTO multilateral framework for investment facilitation (MFIF) are set to begin on September 24–25, 2020.
Negotiations for the Indonesia–EU FTA have been ongoing since 2016, with the ninth round taking place on June 15–26, 2020.
The government of India has recently enacted significant restrictions on inward FDI coming from its neighbours, in a move that seems calculated to target Chinese investment.
As we reported, the EC launched a consultation to clarify and supplement rules on cross-border investment within the EU in May 2020.
Latest round of talks on ECT modernization yields little progress on “modernization”; European officials call for removal of protection for fossil fuels and ISDS
Two rounds of the negotiations for the modernization of the ECT have been held over the past two months, from July 6 to 9 and September 8 to 11, 2020.
On May 26 2020, the EC launched a consultation to clarify and supplement rules on cross-border investment within the EU. According to the consultation document released by the EC, the EU currently faces a growing need for private investment – both for its efforts to mitigate climate change and remain competitive in an increasing digital […]
On March 25, 2020, the European Commission published a guidance for member states on FDI screening in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on, but not limited to, health-related industries.
The director-general of the WTO, Roberto Azevêdo, announced on May 14, 2020, that he will be cutting his term short by one year and stepping down as of August 31. Azevêdo has served in the position since September 1, 2013, with his second term starting in 2017.
The EU released a proposal for the modernization of the ECT on May 27, 2020. This latest draft of the EU’s proposal includes changes to the treaty’s definition of investment, an affirmation of parties’ right to regulate, a narrower definition of FET, and reference to a multilateral investment court. The proposal also suggests several additional articles on sustainable development, frivolous claims, security for costs, interventions by third parties, third-party funding, and valuation of damages.
EU Member States Sign Agreement to Terminate Intra-EU BITs While German Investor Brings Claim Against the Netherlands Under the ECT
On May 5, 2020, 23 European Union member states* formally agreed to the termination of intra-EU BITs.
On April 24, 2020, USTR Robert Lighthizer announced that the USMCA would enter into force on July 1 of this year, one month later than was previously agreed upon.
The entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene. The first phase of the agreement will now take effect by January 2021 at the earliest.
The 101 WTO members discussing a proposed multilateral framework on investment facilitation are now considering a new “consolidated text,” which is meant to be a stepping stone for formal negotiations once these begin.
January UNCITRAL session considers appellate mechanism, standing court, and arbitrator and adjudicator issues
Negotiators working on multilateral reform solutions to ISDS reconvened in Vienna in January 2020 to resume their 38th session, holding talks around the possibility of an appellate mechanism, the benefits and challenges of setting up a permanent court on investment issues, and the process around choosing arbitrators and adjudicators.
Los 99 miembros de la OMC participantes de los debates estructurados sobre un posible marco multilateral para la facilitación de las inversiones están preparándose para pasar al modo negociación desde marzo del 2020 en adelante, en un intento por anunciar un “resultado concreto” en la 12ª Conferencia Ministerial de la OMC a realizarse en Nur-Sultan, Kazakstán, en junio de 2020.
The negotiations for ECT modernization are now underway, with the first such meetings held in December 2019 and at least four other sessions planned over 2020.
The talks between China and the EU for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment saw an important milestone in December 2019, as the two sides exchanged new market access offers. They had exchanged market access offers once previously, in July 2018.
The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been ratified and signed into law in the United States, bringing the trade and investment deal one step closer to entry into force. Of the three countries involved, the only one that has not completed its ratification processes is Canada.
The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU formally took place on January 31, 2020, following years of talks and repeated extensions in the Brexit deadline. With the United Kingdom now in an 11-month transition period, questions remain over the shape of the country’s future trade and investment relationship with the EU and other partners, though some further indications of what this may entail are beginning to emerge.
El nuevo año es testigo de la entrada en vigor de dos nuevos acuerdos comerciales que involucran a Australia; a saber, Perú y Hong Kong. Ambos acuerdos contienen capítulos de inversión y fueron ratificados por la legislatura australiana a fines de diciembre, junto con otro acuerdo que involucra a Indonesia.
El Parlamento Europeo ha dado luz verde a los acuerdos de comercio e inversión del bloque de 27 naciones con Vietnam, luego de siete años de iniciadas las negociaciones formales.
A group of 20 civil society organizations and trade unions from the African continent have circulated a letter questioning the EU’s multilateral investment court (MIC) proposal in the context of the UNCITRAL Working Group III talks on multilateral ISDS reform and urging for a set of alternative proposals to advance instead.
From November 25 to 27, 2019, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights hosted this year’s United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
The UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2019 featured a session dedicated to investment facilitation and promotion.
On November 6, 2019, the Energy Charter Conference confirmed that it would hold the first session of its “Modernization Group” on December 12, 2019, kicking off the process to revise the decades-old ECT.
Leaders from 15 of the countries negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) announced on November 4, 2019, that they had clinched a deal that would govern trade and investment across a wide swath of the Asia–Pacific region.
The joint initiative being pursued by 92 WTO members on developing a multilateral framework on investment facilitation has reached a new phase, with various new participants involved and a push for significant progress ahead of a December stocktaking meeting.
A long-simmering row over plans for two new pipelines that would carry natural gas from Russia into Germany has advanced quickly in recent months, after gas company Nord Stream 2 submitted a notice of arbitration against the EU under the ECT on September 26, 2019.
A set of documents purporting to capture the discussions of the United States–United Kingdom Trade and Investment Working Group from 2018 has recently been released into the public domain.
UNCITRAL secretariat publishes documents to be considered at October 2019 session of Working Group III on ISDS reform
Delegates to the UNCITRAL Working Group III process on multilateral ISDS reform will meet again in Vienna during the week of October 14–18, 2019.
ICSID rule amendment process: Third working paper released in August 2019, consultation with states scheduled for November 2019, approval expected for October 2020
On August 16, 2019, the ICSID secretariat released the third working paper featuring proposed rule amendments, based on inputs from member states and the public.
Negotiations for the RCEP trade and investment deal should be finalized by the end of 2019 and have seen notable progress on market access negotiations and services-related annexes, according to a statement issued in August by ministers from the 16 countries involved in the process.
Talks for an EU–China BIT have made some progress in the areas of financial services and national treatment, according to a report circulated by the European Commission in July, with another negotiating round planned for the week of September 23.
The 70 WTO members participating in the structured discussions on a possible multilateral framework on investment facilitation concluded their current phase of work in late July and are reportedly looking to “intensify” their efforts after the organization’s annual August hiatus.
African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) operational phase kicks off, with eyes on implementation and Phase II talks, including investment
The African Union formally kicked off the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) during a high-level summit in Niger in early July 2019 that brought together heads of state and government from across the continent.
The European Council has approved negotiating directives for the EU’s participation in talks to modernize the ECT, confirming its decision during a meeting on July 2, 2019.
Delegates involved in the UNCITRAL Working Group III process on multilateral ISDS reform have until July 15, 2019 to submit to the UNCITRAL Secretariat their reform proposals and the timing for when such items may be considered in an overarching project schedule. That schedule would help guide the working group under Phase 3 of its mandate, which is devoted to crafting solutions to ISDS-related concerns.
The EC released on May 14 a set of draft negotiating directives setting out its proposed approach in “modernizing” the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) entered into force on May 30, 2019, with the first phase of the deal taking effect for 24 countries. An extraordinary summit on the trade agreement is planned for July 7, 2019 in Niamey, Niger, while Phase II negotiations on intellectual property rights (IPRs), investment and competition policy are expected to take at least another year.
The CJEU has deemed that the ICS included in the Canada–EU CETA is consistent with EU law, issuing its final opinion on April 30, 2019.
The Mexican Senate approved the implementing legislation for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) on June 19, 2019, by an overwhelming majority of 114 votes in favour, with less than a dozen against or abstaining.