CUHK Law Hosts Asia Foreign Direct Investment Forum to Explore China-EU Investment Relationship

With the theme of “China-European Union (“EU”) Investment Relationships: Towards a New Leadership in Global Investment Governance?”, the Asia Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) Forum III was held on 11–12 May 2017 at the Graduate Law Centre of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (“CUHK”). The Forum was organised by CUHK Faculty of Law Centre for Financial Regulation and Economic Development and Tsinghua Law School, with support from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment and the World Economic Forum. Distinguished scholars, civil society, key industry players, legal practitioners and over 100 participants attended for a vibrant exchange on the ongoing EU-China negotiations for a comprehensive investment agreement. Central to this exchange, was the global and regional implications of an investment agreement involving the world’s largest economies on reform of the investor-state dispute settlement regime.

The major aim of the Asia FDI Forum III was to analyse from a multidisciplinary approach the legal dynamics of PRC-EU investment relations by identifying and placing into comparative context the key political and economic issues involved. These engagements over the course of two days involved 10 panel discussions with 33 presentations. Panel presentations focused on the political challenges of the investment agreement, EU-Asian “new generation” treaties, the impact of the “Belt and Road Initiative” (“BRI”) initiative on EU-China FDI relationships, innovative investment rule making, the challenges of sustainable investment and proposals for a permanent investment court spearheaded by the EU. Professor Karl P. Sauvant, Resident Senior Fellow at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, gave a presentation on the pillars of sustainable investment. Mr. Joao Ribeiro, Head of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL“) Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, talked about UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration. Professor Jiaxiang Hu of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University made a presentation on free trade zones. Representing civil society, Ms. Mayling Chan, Director at Oxfam, Hong Kong also delivered a speech on sustainable development goals and business. Other presentations focused on procedural and substantive themes likely to affect the negotiations, including treaty shopping, financial services, transparency, non-discrimination standards, expropriation, investor-state dispute settlement sustainable development and state owned enterprises.

At the end of the Forum a few conclusions were reached. While the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) remains undecided, subsequent investment negotiations should consider innovative features of the TPP’s environmental carve-outs, expropriation, FET and investor right versus state regulatory balancing clauses. While the US is focusing on inwards investment policies, China has accelerated outward investments as seen in the BRI. This highlights the increasingly important role of China in global investment governance and the significance of the EU-PRC investment agreement. EU led proposals for the establishment of a multilateral investment court, sustainable investment and the BRI initiative are themes that will shape the evolution of investment law in the next few years.

After two days of lively discussions and exchanges, the Forum ended on an optimistic note. Although the negotiation of the EU-China investment agreement is far from conclusion, the commitment of both parties is the only guarantee to keep their respective constituencies satisfied, open up new markets and reform the current investment law regime.

The two-day forum attracts over 100 participants for vibrant exchange on the ongoing EU-China negotiations for a comprehensive investment agreement.

Prof. Shen Weixing, Dean of Tsinghua Law School; Prof. Julien Chaisse, Professor of CUHK Law; Mr. Cristian Rodriguez Chiffelle, Lead of International Trade and Investment Policy, WEF.

Distinguished scholars, key industry players and legal practitioners discuss on the China-EU Investment Relationships.

For more information of the Asia FDI Forum series, please refer to