‘Political risk’ in foreign investment is the risk that an investment will be adversely affected by a host country’s political or regulatory decisions. These political or regulatory decisions might result in unfavorable tax legislation, revocation of a business license or, nationalization or ‘expropriation’ of an investment by, for example, the direct or indirect taking of control over the investment by the government. For instance, earlier this year the Argentinean Government announced that it would assume ownership and control of YPF, Argentina’s biggest energy company. At the time, YPF was privately and partly foreign owned and controlled.
Foreign investors can take steps to minimize exposure to political risk. These steps include structuring the foreign investment so that it falls within the protections provided by an investment treaty to which the host country is a party.
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