This post ultimately urges for a nuanced approach to China’s involvement in Africa, turning the “black-and-white” critiques into catalysts for change. Endemic and systemic issues associated with Chinese SOEs may exist, which may be partly attributed to their lack of know-how in overseas operations as well as to cultural differences. Identifying those issues allows for a maximisation of benefits for both the Chinese SOE and the African counter-part. To achieve that, further joint efforts should be engaged by African countries, China and Chinese SOEs.
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While international trade has undergone significant structural changes recently, particularly with the proliferation of new generation of free trade agreements (FTAs), the debate on the consequences of IIAs for sustainable development continues to widen and intensify. In effect, while there has been fundamental changes in the international investment landscape in terms of players (now comprising state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds) and FDI direction (with emerging economies now being, not only recipients, but increasingly home states), governments are also now adopting industrial policies and development strategies that contrast with their erstwhile hands-off approach to economic development.
Attracting foreign investment while holding transnational corporations to account for any human rights transgressions is by no means an easy feat. It will require that a careful balance be struck between the interests of the host State and its people, and that of private actors expecting good risk-return ratios in pursuit of the bottom line. Although international mechanisms such as the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights have long endorsed accountability for transnational corporations, a zero draft international convention to regulate this issue has only recently been developed.
Reforming domestic law is critical to ensuring countries capture the benefits of their natural resources wealth. In addition, it is increasingly being recognized in investment treaty reform processes as well as in investor-state dispute settlement proceedings that investor compliance with domestic law is a prerequisite to entertaining investor claims against states.
The last two decades has seen Intellectual Property, (IP), increasingly regulated by bilateral and regional free trade agreements, (FTAs), rather than through multilateral forums like the WTO. This trend is evidenced in trade between China and African countries, which is dominated by bilateral trade agreements.
With over 100 countries involved, the revision of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 is an extremely important endeavor that presents immense opportunities to all the parties and that requires careful negotiations. The Agreement will expire in 2020 and the parties are currently negotiating a new framework that is expected to reflect today’s socio-economic opportunities, challenges and concerns. This contribution looks at some of the strategic elements to consider when updating or amending investment-related provisions of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.
The draft Pan-African Investment Code (PAIC) or (Code) was released in 2015 with the objective of fostering cross-border investment flows in Africa. While the draft code currently serves as “guiding instrument”, it remains a valuable blueprint for solving the long-standing investment problems plaguing the region. It is therefore imperative that African countries hasten their efforts to ensure its implementation as a binding treaty document. The decision to develop the Code was welcomed by experts as an opportunity to create a binding legal framework to oversee Africa’s industrial and structural transformation. The Code was also expected to balance the lopsided nature of the relationship between investors’ rights and host states’ obligations.
The AU’s focus should be to design the AfCFTA investment protocol as an instrument that will treat all investors equally, and that will also foster harmonisation at continental level from the top down. My argument is still valid although my solution will not resolve questions such as divergent policies and views with regard to whether investor state disputes should be referred to arbitration or litigation. Central to this issue is that African states have different levels of the rule of law. This means that under circumstances where the rule of law is poor, obliging investors to refer disputes to the courts of a host state riks denial of justice.