FOUNDATIONS OF STONE OR SAND

By Jonathan Sahli Wednesday, May 10, 2017
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2017 should see South Africa introduce two new laws, designed to attract international investment and arbitration, and lay the groundwork for a new future as an arbitration centre.

The International Arbitration Bill 2016 and Protection of Investment Act 2015 both offer international dispute resolution mechanisms, but it remains to be seen whether they can repair the country’s reputation as an investment destination. South Africa’s decision, beginning in 2012, to withdraw from its bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with many, mostly European nations, alarmed South African businesses and foreign governments.

Without protection for their investments through the BITs’ investor-state arbitration provisions, there was a concern that these international parties would be reluctant to invest in a country where there is a risk of reform and expropriation through the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) programme, designed to correct decades of economic injustice under apartheid.

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