International Investment Agreements and the escalation of private power in the global agri-food system

Anna Clare Bull, Jagjit Plahe, Lachlan Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Using food regime analysis, this paper critically analyzes how corporate actors amass, secure and apply power in the global agrifood system through International Investment Agreements (IIAs). IIAs are a key enabler of increasing corporate power in the agrifood system. We focus on three sets of investment provisions in IIAs: (a) the stringent enforceability mechanism of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, (b) the expansion of the concept of expropriation, and (c) limitations or prohibitions on host countries to impose performance requirements on foreign investors. We argue that these provisions compromise fairness in the international economic system. Attracted by promises of technology transfer, economic growth and employment, host states often prioritize policies that favor foreign investors even if such policies compromise domestic policy space. We provide analysis and examples of escalating corporate power at different stages of the industrial and transgenic model of agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-533
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Corporate food regime
  • Fairness
  • International Investment Agreements

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