The United States is currently in the process of concluding a multilateral agreement with Canada and Mexico, one of the largest in the world. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) increased trade by 300 per cent between 1994 and 2009. Multilateral agreements have many advantages, including reducing tariffs and facilitating the import and export of goods for businesses. Despite the perceived need, it is not yet possible to establish a legal framework for public policy and direct investment at the global level. What exists today is a complex web of bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements that are neither coded nor limited. Most international multilateral agreements on foreign direct investment focus on restrictions and requirements imposed on MNCs by national governments. These include trade barriers and performance requirements (DTTs), which aim to measure the impact of direct investment and protect economies from negative influences from MNCs. Other agreements (bilateral and regional agreements) focus on the protection of international property and the attractiveness of direct investment. The debate over international FDI and TRIM regulation began in the early 1980s, when safeguards and performance requirements were increasingly criticized by investors and PNCs for significantly distorting global trade and investment flows. Supported by the governments of industrialized countries (particularly those of the OECD), these critics have tried to establish an international regulatory system that would achieve a level playing field, in which foreign investors would receive the same treatment as domestic firms. At the same time, the growing belief that foreign direct investment has had a significant positive impact on national economies has strengthened efforts by national governments to attract foreign direct investment. To avoid a “race to the bottom” that would not benefit any country, it was also argued that an international legal framework was needed to do so directly. To date, these frameworks have been developed primarily at the level of common regional markets, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, APEC, Mercosur and the EU Economic Zone.

In general, the agreements aim to promote FDI flows by creating a secure multilateral economic environment and allowing access to a wider market. Recent studies on the role of regional cooperation have shown that the proportion of FDI generally increases when countries join common markets. The EU concluded or negotiated such bilateral trade agreements: the details of the MAI negotiations were little known until a draft agreement was leaked in March 1997. [14] The leaks have drawn criticism from various NGOs around the world.