An emerging Seat for international arbitration

11 May 2004 - A commentary reprinted from the october 2004 issue of Mealey's International Arbitration Report

I. Introduction
A feature of contemporary capitalism in recent years has been the intensification of the phenomenon
of globalisation. Over the past few decades, the world economy has undergone a process of
expansion and internationalisation, in which all countries have seen investments in products and
services globalised to an ever increasing degree.
Evidence of economic globalisation is to be seen everywhere, as is borne out by the fact that,
whilst world GDP grew at an annual average of 3% in the 1990s, international commerce grew at
3 times that rate. From the year 2000 onwards, however, both factors have experienced a marked
decline, owing, in the main, to terrorism and political uncertainty worldwide.1 Nevertheless, the
proliferation of this globalising phenomenon is a freely acknowledged fact, and is due, among
other things, to the trading facilities created by the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT)
and, since 1995, by its successor, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with a far wider scope of
activity, i.e., property rights, capital movements, free flow of services, information technologies
and the like.2
Since the end of the 2nd World War, scientific-technological advances have deepened and transformed
the ties between countries. Though not in itself new, globalisation has now acquired different
and more complex dimensions than in the past. The growth of international trade is currently
concentrated in goods having greatest added value and technological content. Important
segments of world production are in the hands of the head offices of transnational corporations
and their subsidiaries around the globe. Trade and direct investment have come to acquire greater
weight in countries’ economic activity.
Within the phenomenon of economic globalisation, special mention should be made of the development
of financial globalisation, which in brief means free cross-border movement of capital
around the world. There has been an enormous upsurge in the financial transactions that
implement and act as vehicles for international capital movements, particularly from the 1970s
Financial globalisation reflects great freedom to mobilise savings generated in any part of the
world towards investment opportunities in other geographical areas. Such investments can, in
turn, be regarded as “real” assets (production of goods and services, buildings and property, etc.)
or as “financial” assets (securities, bonds, stocks and shares, derivatives, etc.).