CityPress - - Business -

Bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties are a Ger­man in­ven­tion and came about dur­ing the era of de­coloni­sa­tion. The first mod­ern one was be­tween Ger­many and Pak­istan in 1959, and it was quickly em­u­lated by Switzer­land and oth­ers.

To­day there are al­most 2 300 bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties in force all over the world, and most of these reg­u­late the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a rich and a poor coun­try, pro­tect­ing the prop­erty of the de­vel­oped world in the de­vel­op­ing world.

South Africa has signed 46 of these agree­ments – all of which were signed in a short pe­riod af­ter 1994, start­ing with a bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaty with the UK – but only 22 have been in force.

Since 2012, six of the 22 bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties have been de­nounced – those with Bel­giumLux­em­bourg, Ger­many, Spain, Switzer­land, Aus­tria and the Nether­lands. The bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties are al­most all iden­ti­cal, us­ing a boil­er­plate tem­plate de­signed by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment.

De­spite crit­i­cism of the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of In­vest­ment Bill and the de­nounce­ment of bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties, these treaties all have long sunset clauses of at least 10 years. The Bri­tish one, which is still in ef­fect, re­mains 20 years af­ter its can­cel­la­tion. Bo­livia, Ecuador, Czech Re­pub­lic and In­done­sia are also sys­tem­at­i­cally clear­ing their bi­lat­eral in­vest­ment treaties.

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