Asia-Pacific FDI Forum I

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Past Events

The past meetings of the Asia-Pacific FDI Forum have observed discussions on a wide variety of themes including faring APAC’s agreements with global trends in other foreign nations which gathers momentum from both policy and academic perspectives so as to have comprehensive knowledge and understanding, wave of regionalization in rule-making, complementary nature of Chinese bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives, economic and legal consequences of the China-European Union Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and legal and regulatory framework governing operations of SEZs and possible violations of World Trade Organization (WTO) laws.

In the recent past, foreign investment and trade has grown rapidly in Asia. As the number of Asian countries investing abroad has increased so has the dynamics that underpins these flows. Countries such as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea among others have been looking (and some successfully) to leverage foreign investment for economic growth. Though the growth of FDI in these developing countries which are seeking to maximize the benefits of such outward and inward investment flows has led to the raising of new policy questions for both the home and host countries, this maximization also needs to take place whilst mitigating the potential social and environmental costs of FDI.

These new opportunities bring with them risks, and balancing opportunities against risk has been a challenging task for policy makers, researchers, and the civil society. These stakeholders are working towards developing effective and innovative governance structures which will help their countries in navigating the rough seas of FDI and economic welfare and growth, to reach an island where sustainable and inclusive growth prevails.

Foreign investment has always played a pivotal role in most countries’ political economies. The testament to the same is the fact that more than 3,000 (three thousand) investment agreements have been entered into by various states as of this day. International investments, amongst other advantages, have been seen as aiding a host country in developing a sound economic structure, increasing and diversifying manufacturing, offering
novel and more developed services, creating employment and developing innovative technology. Furthermore, for home countries, outward investments have been known to bring in long-term capital gains and help build economic and political ties with foreign nations. In some cases, such investment can even ensure access to the critical natural resources of the host country.

To encourage such cross-border capital flows, countries have been taking steps to liberalize rules regarding inward and outward investments while simultaneously creating special regimes providing incentives and protections for foreign investments (and investors).

Measures such as revising domestic legal frameworks, trade and investment policies and developing procedures that enhance the Ease of Doing Business have been adopted by countries in the APAC region. Actions including but not limited to entering into trade and/or investment agreements have also been taken at the bilateral and multilateral level. In conjunction with these measures, countries have also undertaken investment promotion activities. Additionally, increasing attention is also being paid to whether and how these domestic and international legal frameworks promote foreign investments and are accompanied by laws and policies to regulate the conduct of investors and investments.

In the background of these developments, the Asia-Pacific FDI Forum 2015, provided a multi-stakeholder platform to all its participants hailing from academia, government, the private sector and civil society wherein the discussion included but was not limited to regional investment trends, specific features of APAC investment laws and treaties, and policy implications, etc. Several of the key questions that the Forum explored were as follows:

1. How APAC’s agreements fare with respect to recent global trends in the evolving rules on foreign investments

2. The patterns and implications of increasing regionalization in investment rulemaking by Asian countries

3. Perceptions and use of investor-state arbitration by Asian investors and against Asian states

4. The relationship between efforts to increase FDI and efforts to improve governance and inclusive growth and development.