Investment policy

Conference on investment treaties and level playing fields


11 March 2019 8h45-18h00 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 debated how level playing field concerns interact with investment policy.  

Pressures for a level playing field have emerged from an evolving environment for multinational investment. 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. Participants at the 2019 conference examined:

  • 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 identified issues and views raised in the discussion and considered potential ways forward.

The conference brought together senior policy makers and investment treaty negotiators from around the world for exchanges with leading representatives of business, civil society, academia and international organisations.






OECD flags at conference centre entrance 350 pixels wide






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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