International Investment Agreements (IIAs): Frequently Asked Questions

Congressional Research Service | 15 May 2015

International Investment Agreements (IIAs): Frequently Asked Questions

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Martin A. Weiss, Coordinator
Shayerah Ilias Akhtar
Brandon J. Murrill
Daniel T. Shedd


In recent decades, the United States has entered into binding investment agreements with foreign countries to facilitate investment flows, reduce restrictions on foreign investment and expand market access, and enhance investor protections, while balancing other policy interests. Some World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements address investment issues in a limited manner. In the absence of a comprehensive multilateral agreement, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in free trade agreements (FTAs), known as international investment agreements (IIAs), have been the primary tools for promoting and protecting international investment.

This report answers frequently asked questions about U.S. IIAs including provisions for investor-state dispute settlement.

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