Dangerous Liaisons : The Story of Special Economic Zones, International Investment Agreements, and Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-471
Journal / PublicationJournal of International Economic Law
Issue number2
Online published4 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


This article focuses on the interaction and relationship between Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as facets of unilateral economic law, international investment law, and the investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) system in a four-fold manner. It initially explains the role of international investment agreements in protecting foreign investments in these zones. Then, it classifies the public or private nature of such zones and goes on to examine related claims through past case law, to determine how modern SEZs must be created to reduce host State liability. Whilst doing so, it provides important suggestions to improve the domestic and international success of SEZs by reducing costs associated with it. In this manner, this article endeavours to highlight the need for a balance in public policy between the rights of host States and foreign investors to ensure that SEZs continue to attract significant amounts of foreign investment. It also stresses on understanding transnational foreign investment rules and the implication of the previously concluded investor–ISDS proceedings so that host States can ensure better regulation of foreign direct investment in these areas.