Can a multilateral agreement on investment reduce double tax treaty abuse in developing countries?
Jantjies, Dumisani Joseph
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Over the years, the world economy has experienced growth in foreign direct investments (FDI), with the role of developing countries becoming more evident as both recipients and investors alike. The proliferation of international investment has also led to more bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with their complex and often duplicated rules. The increase in BITs of this complex nature has thus resuscitated a less publicly debated course, although recently discussed within the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is there need for multilateral agreement on investment (MAI), hosted within the multilateral institution(s)? Since the late 1990s, the discussion as to whether international investments require the MAI has been characterised by diverging interests of developed and developing countries, with neither willing to concede. Even in the immediate post-War II period, this standoff between developed and developing countries has dominated a discourse on whether there is a need for an international agreement on international investment. Yet developing countries, or African countries classified as least developing, continue to be left out of MAI discussions. For example, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 1990's proposed plurilateral agreement excluded African countries.