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International Investment Agreements and the Escalation of Private Power in the Global Agri-Food System

  • Anna Clare Bull
  • Jagjit PlaheEmail author
  • Lachlan Gregory
Original Paper

Abstract

Using food regime analysis, this paper critically analyzes how corporate actors amass, secure and apply power in the global agrifood system through International Investment Agreements (IIAs). IIAs are a key enabler of increasing corporate power in the agrifood system. We focus on three sets of investment provisions in IIAs: (a) the stringent enforceability mechanism of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, (b) the expansion of the concept of expropriation, and (c) limitations or prohibitions on host countries to impose performance requirements on foreign investors. We argue that these provisions compromise fairness in the international economic system. Attracted by promises of technology transfer, economic growth and employment, host states often prioritize policies that favor foreign investors even if such policies compromise domestic policy space. We provide analysis and examples of escalating corporate power at different stages of the industrial and transgenic model of agriculture.

Keywords

Fairness International Investment Agreements Corporate food regime 

Abbreviations

BIT

Bilateral Investment Treaty

CETA

EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement

CPTPP

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

EU

European Union

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FDI

Foreign direct investment

FTA

Free Trade Agreement

GATT

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

GM

Genetically modified

ICSID

International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes

IIA

International Investment Agreement

ISDS

Investor-state dispute settlement

NAFTA

North American Free Trade Agreement

TNC

Transnational corporation

TRIMs

Trade and Investment Related Measures

TRIPS

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

UK

United Kingdom

UN

United Nations

UNCITRAL

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

UNCTAD

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

US

United States of America

USMCA

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

WTO

World Trade Organization

Notes

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Clare Bull
    • 1
  • Jagjit Plahe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lachlan Gregory
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMonash UniversityCaulfield EastAustralia

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