Trade, Investment & Finance
Trade, investment and financial laws and policies could foster or frustrate sustainable development. Global economic growth has resumed, and in 2013 world merchandise exports rose 2.1% to a value of $18.8 trillion. Alongside global rules and active dispute settlement in the World Trade Organization (WTO), 8976 International Investment Agreements, including Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), have now been concluded (UNCTAD 2013 World Investment Report), and close to 600 Regional Trade Agreements (RTAs) are entering into force (WTO RTA Gateway). There is new impetus for international economic law to support a global green economy, and significant potential for international legal innovation. With slow progress in the Doha Development Agenda trade round negotiations, a growing web of RTAs increasingly recognize sustainable development objectives; create exceptions for health, environment, natural resources and other public policies; address sustainability aspects of procurement, intellectual property rights, subsidies and investments; reference climate change, environmental goods, services and technologies; encourage sustainable energy, forestry and other resources use; highlight corporate social responsibility; and seek mutual supportiveness with social and environmental policies. Research into the impacts and opportunities of international investment law for sustainable development, and the possibilities for financial law, is also expanding exponentially. With many countries reforming their laws and institutions to implement new international instruments for a global green economy, there is a pressing need for legal expertise, capacity and advice.