Asia FDI Forum III - May 11-12, 2017, Hong Kong

Background Note

The Asia FDI Forum series

Launched by the CUHK Faculty of Law in 2015, the series of Asia FDI Forum provides a multi-stakeholder platform anchored in Hong Kong for participants from academia, government, the private sector and civil society to discuss regional investment trends, highlight specific features of investment treaties and policies, analyze Asia's relationship with other regions of the world, and explore the various legal and policy implications of the emergence of new actors, issues and norms which shape the future of Asia FDI

The Asia FDI Forum is meant to provide a platform for expert discussion based on academic research and policy oriented presentations, mostly related to legal developments but also sovereign economics and politics of FDI in Asia. To facilitate a frank dialogue, this meeting will take place under the Chatham House rule, a morally binding convention which allows all or part of a meeting to be held 'off the record'. In addition, 'Information gleaned under the Chatham House Rule may be reported [if so agreed], but the identity or affiliations of speakers must not be disclosed.

The Asia FDI Forum III

In January 2014, the European Union (EU) and the People's Republic of China (PRC) formally launched negotiations on a bilateral treaty addressing the promotion and protection of investment between the two parties. The Asia FDI Forum III anticipates the forthcoming negotiations and examines the legal positions from which the parties will begin their negotiations.

The 2017 Forum aims to investigate and compare the PRC's fast-evolving investment-treaty-making practice with the emerging position of the EU. The EU recently concluded three important treaties regulating, among other things foreign investment (namely with Canada, Singapore, and Vietnam) while China has garnered increasing attention through its introduction of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) in 2013, aimed at strengthening its "Go global" policy by opening new markets and increasing the value of cross-border business. Over China`s G20 Presidency in 2016, a multilateral consensus has been reached on Global Investment Policymaking, which specifically reference inclusive growth and sustainable development as objectives of investment policymaking, and implementation of which will be pivotal in reducing the fragmentation of international investment law and policy going forward.

The negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the PRC and the EU will be a watershed event in global investment treaty practice. Because of the size and importance of the PRC-EU bilateral investment relationship, and because of the leading role both parties have played in the global spread of BITs, the issues raised and lessons drawn from the PRC-EU case will have ramifications well beyond China and Europe.

In the context of this global fragmentation, a BIT between the PRC and the EU would be a seminal event in global investment treaty practice. A BIT between the PRC and the EU will cover the investment activity of two billion people, easily making it one the most influential international investment treaties in the world. Concluding such a treaty will require coordination and agreement among the positions of twenty-eight states of differing legal, cultural, political and economic traditions. In the context of global investment treaty-making practice and the race in which all countries are engaged to attract FDI, the conclusions reached by the parties will have significant influence beyond China and the EU.

The main objectives of the Asia FDI Forum III are:

  1. To provide a detailed reading of recent developments in investment treaty-making by both the PRC and EU member states as well as a finer appreciation of how the parties' treaties have evolved and in response to what drivers.
  2. To analyze the legal issues raised by the negotiation of a PRC-EU BIT regarding the investment treaty-making practice of the respective parties and the parties' growing litigation experience under existing international investment agreements,
  3. To analyze the course of PRC-EU investment relations, identifying and placing into comparative context the key legal issues raised by the negotiation of a comprehensive investment treaty between China and the EU.

In light of these developments, the Asia FDI Forum 2017 will provide a multi-stakeholder platform for participants from academia, government, the private sector and civil society to discuss regional investment trends, highlight specific features of China and EU's investment treaties and policies, exploring the various policy implications of the above.

Conference Chairs

  • Mr. Julien Chaisse, Professor, Faculty of Law & Director of the Center for Financial Regulation and Economic Development, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
  • Ms. Teresa Chang, Professor, School of Law, Tsinghua University
  • Ms. Lise Johnson, Head, Investment Law and Policy, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), Columbia University