Canadian Investment Treaties with African Countries: What Do They Tell Us About Investment Treaty Making in Africa?

in The Journal of World Investment & Trade
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Between 2013 and 2015, Canada signed nine bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with countries in Africa. Canada was remarkably successful in imposing its model investment treaty on its African partners. Canada’s success might be considered surprising. Investor-state arbitration cases have shown the strong binding character of BITs and the corresponding need for host states to ensure that treaties reflect their distinctive priorities. In seeking to do so, African countries could have looked to African regional initiatives for expressions of made in African investment policies. African negotiators could have benefited from the substantial work done by UNCTAD and others to provide new forms of international investment rules that make BITS more supportive of sustainable development. Despite stronger incentives for African countries to assert themselves in BIT negotiations and resources for them to draw on, however, Canada’s recent BITs suggest that political and economic power continue to define the outcome of negotiations.