President Obama has announced plans to expedite bilateral investment treaty negotiations between the United States and China. Similar to the investment chapters of U.S. free trade agreements, BITs give foreign investors the right to bypass domestic courts and sue governments in international tribunals. A BIT with a major capital exporter like China significantly raises the likelihood of more “investor-state” cases targeting U.S. laws and regulations. Many civil society organizations, legal experts, and policy makers in this country and around the world have raised strong concerns about the social and environmental impacts of the current system for resolving investment disputes. The U.S.-China BIT negotiations create an opportunity to shine a brighter spotlight on this issue and develop a fresh approach to U.S. international investment policy that supports the public interest.
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