Chinese Foreign Direct Investment into Africa in the Context of BRICS and Sino-African Bilateral Investment Treaties

By: Catherine Elkemann & Oliver C. Ruppel

China is now the second largest economy in the world after the United States of America and is deemed to be the most influential member of the group of leading emerging economies, the so called BRICS partnership consisting of Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa. According to the latest World Investment Report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (“UNCTAD”), China is also the second largest recipient of inward for- eign direct investment (“IFDI”) and the third in terms of outward foreign direct investment (“OFDI”). In this context, Africa is emerging as an important destination for China’s FDI outflows. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this article seeks to further our understanding of the economic, political and, more importantly, the legal framework that underlies these current developments. The article first of all provides an overview of China’s current Africa policy with regards to investment. Also, the role of BRICS is scrutinized in this context. In its main part, the article then refers to the international law governing FDI. A special emphasis is put on bilateral investment treaties that have been concluded between China and Africa. Finally, this article evaluates the political and legal framework of the Sino-African investment relations, taking into account various aspects ranging from environmental concerns to human rights aspects, labour issues, and economic development. Again, the bilateral investment treaties are analysed in more detail.

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