CATRC starting to look into the Bilateral Investment Agreements


After a year occasional research into the interaction between the International Tax Treaties and Bilateral Investment Agreements, Prof. Balco took part on The Conference on Foreign Direct Investment: Trends and Policies and the Workshop on key substantive issues relevant to the analysis and the negotiation of IIAs for Economies in Transition, which was organized by the UNCTAD Secretariat, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship of Croatia and The University of Kiel.

These events took place in Zagreb, Croatia, from the 21st to the 23rd September 2011. The conference and the workshop brought together academics, government officials, negotiators and investors from the Economies in Transition to discuss the recent trends and implications of IIAs in the region.

“I am fascinated by uncovering an area of bilateral international agreements, which was largely hidden to me until this moment. Back in Summer 2010, I met with a friend of mine - Irena Alajbeg, Head of International Agreements Division, Ministry of economy, labour and entrepreneurship, Croatia. Irena used to work as tax treaty negotiator and we became friends shortly before she moved into this new direction. I was curious about the possible interaction between these two types of international agreements, which are often negotiated between the countries at about the same time. Initially we were considering to organize a joint event – exploring the relations between the IIA’s and DTA’s, but we did not find sufficient interest of European academicians to dive into this new area. Irena did not stand still – she went ahead and organized a high level conference attended by government officials, academics and experts from all over the world. It was pleasure to see the fruits of her work,”- shares his experience Tomas Balco.

Bilateral investment agreements are concluded primarily to provide mutual guarantees for protection of mutual investments, providing non-discriminatory investment environment, access to dispute resolution mechanism and generally removing obstacles to mutual investments. Double Tax Agreements are constructed more narrowly and focus only on elimination of double taxation and elimination of tax evasion. So they deal with only one aspect or element of the investment environment, while the IIA’s deal with much broader category of issues, which are crucial for investment flows.

“I still did not give up on the idea of carrying out a comparative research on these two sets of agreements and possibly bringing together experts of these 2 fields with the objective to explore where the concepts appearing in both agreements differ and are similar from each other – the issues like – Treaty entitlement, Treaty shopping, Interpretation of treaties, Non-discrimination, Most Favorite Nation treatment and dispute resolution seem to be some of the points of reference that I identified so far and I look forward to look a bit closer on these – currently mainly from academic interest’, - comments Professor Balco.