National and Regional Policy Changes and the Creation of the WTO (Early 1980s-Mid-1990s)
This chapter discusses the liberalization of investment policies at all levels during the 1980s and 1990s. At the national level, scores of countries undertook significant liberalization programmes. At the bilateral level, the number of BITs increased from a couple of hundred to well over a thousand. At the regional level, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included significant investment policy liberalization measures. Because of the numerous diverse liberalization agreements in the 1980s and the 1990s, the ‘patchwork problem’ became worse. Although MNEs faced a much more open and hospitable investment climate in most of the world by the mid-1990s than at any time during the preceding half-century, they also faced a much more complex array of international agreements. There was therefore, increasing uncertainty about the future of investment policies at the regional and multilateral levels in the mid- to late 1990s.
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