Development vs profit

  • April 14, 2014
Development vs profit

Todd Tucker spoke about a programme he has created to help developing countries with international trade litigation at a recent high-level meeting.

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has presented the initial findings of a programme he has developed which aims to help developing countries facing international trade litigation at an event at the Inter-American Development Bank.

Todd Tucker gave his presentation at the “Development, FDI and Investment Treaties” forum on 8 April organised by the Embassy of Ecuador and Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment in Washington DC.

The forum brought together leading economists, attorneys, and academics to debate policy solutions on foreign investment and the international frameworks that govern it.

In his presentation Tucker said that developing countries agreed to allow multinational investors to sue them outside of national courts well before there was any case law that would allow policymakers to clearly understand what obligations they were signing up for. He adds: “Today, we have over 200 cases finalised (each of them as many as 300+ pages long), but there is little systematic analysis of the cases to feed back into policymakers.”

He has created a computer algorithm that can inform them about what case precedents and concepts arbitrators find most compelling. He says: “As I continue to develop this programme, we should be able to help developing countries make predictions (with a margin of error) of what types of policies are likely to be challenged, and what types of rhetorical and legal arguments are likely to find more support from arbitrators.”

Tucker, who is doing a PhD in Development Studies [2012], has argued in the past that case law shows international law may be prioritising wealthy investors over best practices in development.

Nathalie Cely, Ecuadorian Ambassador to the United States, said: “We firmly believe that foreign direct investment has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable economic development, but we must have trade policies that work in a 21st century world. The conference brought together stakeholders from around the world to help establish a global set of firm standards and regulations that meet the needs of not just the industrialised world, but also developing economies. The government of Ecuador fully supports the principle that all investment risk should be rewarded, but we must balance corporate interests with public interests. Our experience in Ecuador shows that profitable and responsible investments are not mutually exclusive.”

Picture credit: Naypong and www.freedigitalphotos.net.

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