The Office of Investment Affairs (IFD/OIA) develops and carries out U.S. policy on international investment matters, in cooperation with other agencies. Strategic goals are to:

  • protect U.S. investment abroad;
  • promote market-based investment standards;
  • encourage other countries to adopt policies that create sound investment regimes.

The Office pursues these goals by:

  • negotiating investment treaties and agreements;
  • leading investment work in multilateral forums;
  • providing guidance to U.S. Embassies and consulates to help U.S. investors seeking assistance in investment-related disputes.

Foreign investment is vital to economic growth around the globe. Investment creates good jobs, increases productivity, and raises living standards in the United States and in other countries. We encourage nondiscriminatory, open, and market-oriented environments for U.S. investment overseas though the negotiation of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). BITs and FTA investment chapters protect U.S. investors and investments abroad and gain greater access for U.S. investors in foreign markets. The Department of State co-chairs the negotiation of U.S. BITs with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and serves on USTR-led delegations in the negotiation of FTA investment chapters. We monitor investment elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Office of Investment Affairs also coordinates preparation by U.S. embassies abroad of annual Investment Climate Statements.

EB leads USG engagement in multilateral fora to encourage open investment policy, restrain protectionist impulses, and advance U.S. views on investment rules. The two principal multilateral venues are the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the G8 Heiligendamm Dialogue Process (HDP). EB led successful efforts through the OECD Investment Committee's 2006-2009 Freedom of Investment Project to showcase growing investment protectionism and develop best practices for addressing national security concerns associated with foreign investment. In 2008 the project also produced best practices for recipient country treatment of investment from sovereign wealth funds, a ministerial declaration on open investment and the avoidance of protectionism, and a new surveillance mechanism for tracking and subjecting to peer review potential protectionist measures. In four meetings since the 2007 G-8 Summit, the HDP Investment Working Group brought together the G8 and China, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa to address the importance of investment agreements as a complement to sound development policy, issues of coherence among thousands of bilateral investment treaties, the balance between protection of investor rights and the legitimate need for governments to regulate and promote development. The Working Group called for the avoidance of protectionism before the November 2008 G-20 statement.

We work closely with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government agency that supports U.S. investors overseas with specialized insurance and finance programs. We coordinate with other State Department bureaus to ensure OPIC's activities are consistent with our overall foreign policy aims.

Business groups, labor unions and non-governmental organizations are focusing public attention on globalization and international organizations where trade and investment policy is negotiated or coordinated. The Office of Investment Affairs helps lead international work to develop and strengthen investment policy by engaging actively at multilateral organizations, including:

Multilateral cooperation encourages transparency and investment liberalization to facilitate increased investment flows.

The Office also serves as the U.S. National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The OECD Guidelines are non-binding recommendations on responsible corporate behavior from governments to their multinational corporations, covering topics like labor relations, environmental policy, corporate disclosure and combating bribery.

Along with the Commercial and Business Affairs Office (CBA) and the Office of International Claims and Investment Disputes (L/CID), the Office of Investment Affairs is a point of contact within the State Department for assistance to U.S. companies involved in investment disputes, expropriation cases, or other claims against foreign governments. We also work with the Department of Commerce to collate investment climate information for prospective overseas investors. OIA coordinates with the Departments of Commerce and Justice to address alleged incidents of bribery of foreign public officials (by foreign-based corporations) that adversely affect the opportunity for U.S. companies to compete on a transparent and level playing field for international tenders and contracts.

The Office assesses national security implications of selected proposed mergers and acquisitions of U.S. companies by foreign companies, working with other U.S. agencies to make recommendations to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

OIA conducts regular outreach sessions to exchange views with business groups, labor unions, and non-governmental organizations interested in U.S. investment policy, U.S. investment treaties, the fight against bribery and corruption, and corporate responsibility.