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The Asia- Pacific Workshop on UNCTAD’s Phase 3 of IIAs Reform: Improving Investment Policy Coherence and Synergies

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On April 28 – 30, 2021, the International Institute for Trade and Development (Public Organization) in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand (MFA of Thailand), and the International Institute for Sustainable and Development (IISD) co-organized the Asia – Pacific Workshop on UNCTAD’s Phase 3 of IIAs Reform: Improving Investment Policy Coherence and Synergies via online Webex virtual platform. The workshop opening remarks was presided by Mr. Joerg Weber (Head, Investment Policies Branch, UNCTAD), Mr. Cherdchai Chaivavid (Director – General, Department of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand), and Ms. Nathalie Bernasconi Osterwalder (Executive Director of IISD Europe, IISD). Also, Mr. Manu Sithiprasasana (Executive Director, ITD) welcomed the participants.

On this occasion, Mr. Hamed El-Kady (Senior Investment Policy Officer, UNCTAD) together with Dr. Kraijakr Thiratayakinant (Counsellor, Head of International Agreements Subdivision at International Economic Policy Division, International Economic Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand), and Mr. Joe Zhang (IISD’s Economic Law and Policy Group, IISD) gave a panel discussion on “IIAs Reform in Times of COVID-19” with Dr. Thanes Sucharikul (Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Rangsit University) as a moderator.

Additionally, Mr. Vincent Beyer (Consultant, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD) gave a presentation entitled “UNCTAD’s IIAs Reform Accelerator during the Time Pandemic”, Mr. Varapol Chensavasdijai (Counsellor, International Law Development Division, Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand) spoke on the topic “Recent Updates on Thailand’s IIAs and the Way Forward”, and Mr. Suppharoek Sakulngoen (Counsel, Thailand International Arbitration Center) gave a presentation in a topic of “Discussion on Thailand’s Challenges, Lessons Learned from IIAs”. Furthermore, Mr. Joe Zhang together with Ms. Sarah Brewin (Senior Law Advisor, IISD) gave a presentation entitled “Trends, Challenges and On-Going Global Reform Efforts Taking Globally” and Mr. Jae Sung LEE (Legal Officer, International Trade Law Division, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations, Secretariat of UNCITRAL) gave a presentation in a topic of “The Future of ISDS: Stocktaking of Treaties, Trends and Reform Proposals” with Mr. Nicky Balani as a moderator.

The objective of this workshop was to equip stakeholders and state representatives with guidance, policy options and tools in accordance with UNCTAD’s IIAs Reform Package with a focus on Phase 3 reforms. The workshop will also provide an opportunity for participants to share expertise and best practices in order for participants to critically assess national and international investment policy, and identify areas for policy coherence and synergy to inform the reform direction. The workshop was attended by 86 participants who have been working in the area of IIAs, investor-state dispute settlement, foreign direct investment or related fields from 8 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.