Investment in the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement
Foreign investment delivers significant economic benefits to U.S. companies and American workers. When U.S. companies can more easily expand to and invest in foreign markets, that access can boost employment, increase wages, promote exports, and enhance innovation here at home by increasing demand for their products and services overseas.
The U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement increases investment opportunities for U.S. companies in Colombia by providing them market access, strong investor protections, and a way for investors to enforce their rights. The Agreement does not provide Colombian investors in the United States any more investment protections than U.S. law gives American investors here, and it ensures that the U.S. Government and our state and local governments can continue to regulate in the public interest, including to protect public health, public safety, and the environment.
The Agreement’s investment rules establish a stable framework for U.S. companies investing in Colombia, level the playing field, and require U.S. investors to be treated in accordance with the rule of law. The investment rules preserve a level playing field for U.S. investors here at home, and ensure the government’s ability to look out for the public interest where Colombian investment is concerned.
The Agreement’s investment rules are largely drawn from U.S. law, and increase protections for U.S. investors in Colombia to the standards that they – and Colombian investors – already enjoy in the United States. These include requirements that the Colombian government will treat U.S. investors just as well as domestic investors or any other foreign investor. The Colombian government cannot illegally seize U.S. investors’ property or illegally destroy the value of their investments without paying full compensation, and the Colombian government will allow U.S. investors to move their money into or out of Colombia. U.S. investors cannot be forced to transfer technology to Colombia as a condition for investing there, nor be required to hire local managers.
The Agreement provides U.S. investors with locked-in and, in some cases, improved market access in key sectors in Colombia. These include, for example, delivery services, construction, energy, and telecommunications – where, for instance, American companies will be allowed to own 100 percent of a Colombian subsidiary.
If a U.S. investor believes that the Colombian government has breached key investment rules of the Agreement – for instance, a prohibition against discriminatory treatment of a U.S. investor – then that investor is guaranteed recourse to neutral, transparent, and binding international arbitration.
In the Trade Act of 2002, Congress mandated that trade agreements should not give foreign investors in the United States any greater investment protections than American investors already receive – and all of the protections offered to Colombian investors in this Agreement reflect U.S. law protections that are already available to all investors, both foreign and domestic, in the United States.
Nothing in the Agreement’s investment rules prevents the federal government or a state or local government from adopting or maintaining laws or regulations to protect public health, public safety, the environment, or other public interests.
While Colombian investors will have recourse if they believe the United States has violated their rights, the rules of the Agreement contain safeguards to deter and penalize frivolous suits. They require that all arbitration proceedings be open to the public and allow the public to weigh in with the arbitration panel. Both countries can review how the Agreement should be applied if there are concerns about how a panel may rule.