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Beyond trade deals: charting a post-Brexit course for UK investment treaties

Lorenzo Cotula, Lise Johnson

Briefing, 4 pages

The Brexit referendum has raised questions about the future terms of the United Kingdom’s engagement with the world economy. While a debate over the UK’s future approach to trade deals has already begun, a similar discussion has yet to develop on the treaties that govern foreign investment. The stakes are high: ill-designed treaties could leave the UK excessively exposed to legal claims by foreign companies and could fail to address economic, social and environmental challenges. While meaningful negotiations are unlikely to start until the new relationship between the UK and the EU has been clarified, now would be a good time for a policy review to define a new approach. The government, parliament and the public have an important role to play in positioning the UK as a global innovator in investment treaty policy.

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International treaties, national laws and transnational contracts define the terms of an investment and influence the distribution of its costs and benefits. To promote inclusive sustainable development, IIED works with partners to rethink these legal documents and the process through which they are formulated.

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Rethinking investment treaties, laws and contracts