Investment treaties and level playing fields


11 March 2019 8h30-18h00 OECD Conference Centre, Paris, France

Calls for a level playing field are a growing challenge for trade and investment treaty policy makers. At the 5th annual OECD Investment Treaty Conference, governments, stakeholders and experts will debate how level playing field concerns interact with investment policy.  

Changes in the environment for international investment have led to new demands for a level playing field. Key evolutions include increased government competition for investment and concerns about delocalisation; the development of state-owned enterprises as major international investors and concerns about competitive neutrality; greater attention to business and investor responsibilities with regard to human rights; and growing inequalities in many economies.

As demands for a level playing field have intensified in this new environment, several aspects of investment treaty policy have become more controversial or important. As set out in the Outline of topic, the Conference will examine:

  • preferences for investment treaty-covered investors over non-covered investors
  • concerns about a level playing field with regard to state-owned enterprises 
  • concerns that investment treaties tilt the competitive playing field for the distribution of government benefits and burdens towards investor interests and away from other societal interests including labour and the protection of human rights.

A concluding session will place current policy debates in historical perspective and consider potential ways forward.






OECD flags at conference centre entrance 350 pixels wide


Outline of topic


OECD Conference Centre


2018 - Treaty shopping and tools for investment treaty reform

2017 - Evaluating and enhancing outcomes of investment treaties

2016 - The quest for balance between investor protection and governments’ right to regulate

2015 - Investment treaties: Policy goals and public support



OECD Freedom of Investment Roundtable

OECD work on international investment law


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