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Competing for Capital: The Diffusion of Bilateral Investment Treaties, 1960 2000

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  • Elkins, Zachary
  • Guzman, Andrew T.
  • Simmons, Beth A.
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    Abstract

    Over the past forty-five years, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) have become the most important international legal mechanism for the encouragement and governance of foreign direct investment. The proliferation of BITs during the past two decades in particular has been phenomenal. These intergovernmental treaties typically grant extensive rights to foreign investors, including protection of contractual rights and the right to international arbitration in the event of an investment dispute. How can we explain the widespread adoption of BITs? We argue that the spread of BITs is driven by international competition among potential host countries typically developing countries for foreign direct investment. We propose a set of hypotheses that derive from such an explanation and develop a set of empirical tests that rely on network measures of economic competition as well as more indirect evidence of competitive pressures on the host to sign BITs. The evidence suggests that potential hosts are more likely to sign BITs when their competitors have done so. We find some evidence that coercion and learning play a role, but less support for cultural explanations based on emulation. Our main finding is that the diffusion of BITs is associated with competitive economic pressures among developing countries to capture a share of foreign investment. We are agnostic at this point about the benefits of this competition for development.For useful comments on earlier drafts of this article, we thank Bill Bernhard, Bear Braumoeller, Frank Dobbin, Robert Franzese, Jeffry Frieden, Geoffrey Garrett, Tom Ginsburg, Jude Hays, Lisa Martin, Bob Pahre, Mark Ramsayer, Steven Ratner, Susan Rose-Ackerman, and John Sides. For research assistance, we thank Elizabeth Burden, Raechel Groom, and Alexander Noonan.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal International Organization.

    Volume (Year): 60 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 04 (October)
    Pages: 811-846

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    Handle: RePEc:cup:intorg:v:60:y:2006:i:04:p:811-846_06

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    Cited by:
    1. Matthias Busse & Jens Königer & Peter Nunnenkamp, 2008. "FDI Promotion through Bilateral Investment Treaties: More Than a Bit?," Kiel Working Papers 1403, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    2. Wasseem MIchel Mina, 2010. "Institutional Reforms Debate and FDI Flows to MENA Region: Does One “Best” Fit All?," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1034, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    3. Mark Copelovitch & David Ohls, 2012. "Trade, institutions, and the timing of GATT/WTO accession in post-colonial states," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 81-107, March.
    4. Susan Ariel Aaronson & M. Rodwan Abouharb, 2010. "Unexpected Bedfellows: The GATT, the WTO, and Some Democratic Rights," Working Papers 2010-12, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Chang Hoon Oh & Michele Fratianni, 2010. "Do Additional Bilateral Investment Treaties Boost Foreign Direct Investments?," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 43, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    6. Phelps, Nicholas A. & Stillwell, John C.H. & Wanjiru, Roseline, 2009. "Broken Chain? AGOA and Foreign Direct Investment in the Kenyan Clothing Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 314-325, February.
    7. Christopher, Gandrud, 2011. "Competing risks analysis and deposit insurance governance convergence," MPRA Paper 36087, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Susan Ariel Aaronson & M. Rodwan Abouharb, 2011. "Does the WTO Help Member States Clean Up?," Working Papers 2011-13, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    9. Saban, Daniela & Bonomo, Flavia & Stier-Moses, Nicolás E., 2010. "Analysis and models of bilateral investment treaties using a social networks approach," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(17), pages 3661-3673.
    10. Eric Neumayer & Peter Nunnenkamp & Martin Roy, 2014. "Are Stricter Investment Rules Contagious? Host Country Competition for Foreign Direct Investment through International Agreements," Kiel Working Papers 1910, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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