Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 01/2013

A China – US bilateral investment treaty: A template for a multilateral framework for investment?

Karl P. Sauvant, Huiping Chen

December 2012

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment


China is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) host and home country among emerging markets, the United States among developed countries. As host countries, both seek to maintain policy space to pursue their own legitimate public policy objectives; as home countries, both seek to protect their investors’ outward FDI. The development of their bilateral investment treaties (BITs) over the past decade reflects this: Chinese BITs have become more protective of investors, US ones more respectful of host country interests. If agreement is reached between both, it would provide a template for future investment agreements.