International Conference: Asia FDI Forum 2015 held in Hong Kong

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Oxfam, together with the Centre for Financial Regulation and Economic Development (CFRED) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), hosted the ‘Asia FDI Forum 2015’ in Hong Kong from 5 to 6 November 2015.

This international forum gathered more than 40 renowned international investment specialists, local lawyers, arbitrators and development partners to discuss a wide range of issues related to international investment, including new trends, governance and – most importantly – its relation to sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Investment in and within Asia is growing rapidly, and many Asian developing countries have been promoting foreign direct investment as the key driving force of economic growth, which often comes at social and environmental costs. As such, Oxfam aims to bring together different experts and stakeholders to explore effective and innovative governance frameworks in order to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.

The forum started with discussions on the most recent global trends in the evolving rules on foreign investment and the emerging trend of increasing regionalisation of Asia-Pacific international investment negotiations, which would likely modify the current Asia-Pacific investment regulations.

In light of these trends, the ASEAN region in particular requires our attention. While this region boasts some of the fastest growing areas in the world, some of the ASEAN member states are still struggling to graduate from the Least Developed Countries category. Despite rapid economic growth mainly driven by FDI, effective and efficient governance in the region has not been fully developed. The progressing economic integration is going to further challenge the local communities of some member states.

The forum also looked into the reasons why there have only been a limited number of international investment disputes that involve Asia-Pacific countries, and explored alternative grievance mechanisms that could effectively include and address the needs of communities. As an investor, China’s emerging role and its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has caught much attention.

With many challenging issues to address, especially those related to sustainable development in international investment, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Oxfam aim to develop this forum into an annual platform for continuous dialogue and collaboration.

Prof. Julien Chaisse, Associate Professor and Director CFRED from CUHK’s Faculty of Law (left); Dr. Christopher Gane, Dean and Professor from CUHK’s Faculty of Law (middle); and Dr. Trini Leung, Director General of Oxfam Hong Kong (right) delivered the opening remarks.

 

Mr. Kevin May, Programme Manager of Oxfam Hong Kong (middle), chaired the panel on the potential of investment law to promote sustainable international investment. Dr. Zhai Xueling, Research Center for Rural Economy, Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China (second from the left); and Dr. He Jun, Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre, Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China (second from the right), talked about the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. Prof. Tomoko Ishikawa, Associate Professor, University of Tsukuba (right), discussed the balance between investment protection and public policy goals.