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On the optimal size of bilateral investment treaty network in foreign direct investment flows

Chang Hoon Oh (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
Michele Fratianni (Indiana University, Bloomington, USA and Department of Economics, Universita Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Marche, Italy)

Multinational Business Review

ISSN: 1525-383X

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The aim of this paper first is to go beyond the static effects of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and empirically estimate the marginal effects of the stock of BITs on foreign direct investment flows.


These statistical models use a gravity equation.


This paper finds that BITs is subject to diminishing returns measured in terms of FDI flows. Diminishing returns are more pronounced among country-pairs that have not signed BITs but have their own BIT network than among country-pairs with their own BITs.

Research limitations/implications

The subsidiary finding is that a measure of a country’s BIT network characteristic, capturing conditions favorable for a mix of horizontally and vertically integrated activities, may be the limiting force underlying the diminishing returns of the stock of BITs.


For a given country’s BIT network, a multinational enterprise finds more value in investing where a bilateral treaty is in place. This suggests either stronger property-rights protection or greater latitude to use the host country as an export platform.



Oh, C.H. and Fratianni, M. (2017), "On the optimal size of bilateral investment treaty network in foreign direct investment flows", Multinational Business Review, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 150-170.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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