SA to finally table bill to protect foreign investors

CAPE TOWN – SA’s Minster of Trade and Industry Dr Rob Davies said on Tuesday that the Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill would promote investments and protect investor interests. The bill is viewed as the latest set of rules governing foreign direct investment.

The Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday morning after months of public consultation.

“The Bill seeks to promote investments and clarify the level of protection that an investor may expect in South Africa and ensure that the country remains open to foreign investment,” Davies said.

Davies said the purpose of this Bill is to “provide adequate and equal protection for foreign and local investors alike.” The Bill would strike a balance between the rights and obligations of investors, and ensure equal treatment between foreign investors and local investors.

The tabled Bill would give government the “right to pursue constitutionally-driven national development objectives and recognises the right of governments to regulate in the public interest,” said Davies.

Davies said that according to the 2015 World Investment Report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development had argued that “the process of reform of international investment agreements needs to be synchronised at national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.” He was speaking to the growing regulatory environment globally in the investment sector.

He said the the Bill “builds on the already robust investor protection by clarifying – and bringing into alignment – standards of protection routinely found in international investment treaties with South Africa’s legal framework.”

The Bill would look at other aspects such as the definition of national treatment, protection, security, the transfer of funds and the right to property in the context of international investment law. All of these would be looked at in line within the country’s constitutional principles, said Davies.

This Bill, said Davies, reflects South Africa’s commitment to “maintaining an open and transparent environment for foreign investors, while recognising the importance of ensuring sufficient scope for the government to regulate all investments, whether domestic or foreign, in order to fulfil legitimate national policy objectives.”

Davies said once the Bill is effected, investors are able to submit disputes before national courts and relevant authorities. He added that should all domestic solutions be exhausted, the government could make use of international arbitration to resolve such investment related disputes.

Members of the public and stakeholders would be able to submit comments on the Bill during a Parliamentary Committee public feedback process. – ANA