The Future of the United Kingdom Investment Policy after Brexit

On 25 February 2020, we convened an Investment Treaty Forum event to discuss the investment policy of the United Kingdom following its exit from the European Union.

The UK is getting ready to deliver on the ambitious promise to conclude new trade agreements with various countries around the world.  Although the European Union rules did not prevent the United Kingdom from concluding its own international investment agreements consistent with EU law, the British government preferred to rely on Brussels to negotiate and conclude such agreements. The last bilateral investment treaty the United Kingdom concluded separately from the European Union was the 2010 Colombia-UK agreement.

After the end of the Brexit transition period this year, the United Kingdom will need to make choices on which substantive and procedural protections to include in its new international investment agreements. Our recent study on ‘Investment Promotion and Protection in the Canada-UK Trade Relationship‘ examined the most recent trends on investment protection. It showed that while a number of common trends have already formed in the new generation of investment treaties, they significantly diverge on a number of issues.

Perhaps the most striking difference between various investment protection regimes is evident in investor-State dispute settlement. While a small minority of states (such as Brazil) oppose the idea of allowing investors to assert claims directly against States, others want to keep the current system (Japan, China to a significant extent), or support the creation of investment courts with judges appointed by states for fixed periods of time.

These differences and similarities between various jurisdictions became apparent during the Investment Treaty Forum meeting on 25 February 2020:

  • Matthew Coleman welcomed the participants on behalf of the host firm, Steptoe & Johnson
  • I delivered my introductory remarks (1:59).
  • Christophe Bondy introduced the speakers and shared his views informed by his experience as a former Canadian treaty negotiator (5:30)
  • Laura Rees Evans introduced the state of affairs in the United Kingdom today (12:40)
  • Nicolaj Kuplewatzky gave a perspective of the European Union (35:05)
  • Yumiko Takahashi spoke about Japan’s policy on international investment agreements (55:45) and
  • Professor Ming Du explained the current trends in China’s investment treaty-making (1:15:15).

The full podcast is available here:

Yarik Kryvoi

British Institute of International and Comparative Law