7 August 2019
In a new report on UK investment policy, Parliament’s International Trade Committee urges the Government to put in place a policy on International Investment Agreements in advance of a possible no-deal Brexit.
The report criticises the inability of the Department for International Trade (DIT) to set out “even basic lines of policy” on investment agreements. The Department told the Committee that it was prevented from formulating such a policy until after Brexit, but the report finds no credible legal basis for this argument.
Available at publications.parliament.uk, “UK investment policy” highlights that this country has long been both a leading source and destination for overseas investment.
Given the importance of this cross-border investment for the UK, it expresses MPs’ concern that the Government does not have a policy at this stage.
It goes on to outline a number of areas — including investment liberalisation and protection, and investment regulation — where there is little clarity on the Government’s position.
Committee Chairman Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “Despite describing the value of investment to the UK as “phenomenal”, the Minister for Investment could tell us surprisingly little about the Government’s approach to international investment agreements after Brexit.”
This is urgent, he went on, given that the UK could leave the EU without a deal in a matter of months, and if that happens the Government will take back responsibility for negotiating such agreements.
It will have the responsibility of negotiating deals governing British investments abroad and overseas investments in the UK and, the report highlights, International Investment Agreements have been hugely controversial in recent years — not least because of provisions relating to investment protection.
The Committee warns the Government that it needs to do more to ensure it does not claim credit for inward investment successes that would have happened without official involvement.