Reconsidering the Motivations of the United States’ Bilateral Investment Treaty Program
American Society of International Law Proceedings, vol. 108, pp. 373-376, 2015
9 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2014 Last revised: 19 Apr 2015
Date Written: July 18, 2014
Over the last thirty years, the United States has entered into nearly fifty Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). A foundational question that has not yet been adequately explained, however, is why the U.S. has signed these agreements. Despite the fact that this question has not been empirically studied, a dominant narrative in the academic literature has emerged to answer it. The logic of that narrative is simple: the United States negotiated investment treaties to protect American capital invested abroad. This view of the United States’ BITs program should not only be unsurprising because of the content of the treaties, but also unsurprising because the same explanation has consistently been offered by scholars to explain why developed countries in general are motivated to sign investment agreements. It is my contention, however, that this investment-centric theory for why the United States would have been motivated to sign BITs does not fit the evidence.
Keywords: BITs, Investment, Treaties
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