BRICS and the Global Investment Regime
Chapter 8 in: “BRICs and the Global Economy,” edited by Soo Yeon Kim (World Scientific Publishing, Singapore), Forthcoming
37 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2017 Last revised: 25 Aug 2020
Date Written: April 24, 2017
What role do Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) play in the global investment regime and what policies do they espouse? How can we account for similarities among and differences across these countries with respect to their approach to international investment agreements (IIAs) and investment arbitration? What are their implications for the future of this regime? This study addresses these questions by situating emerging market economies in the persistent North-South divide, that is endemic to the global politics of foreign direct investment (FDI). Surveying the policies of the five countries since the 1980s, it shows that all were initially motivated to provide foreign investors with protection against political risk in order to attract FDI. As their own position in the global economy has changed and the rules of the regime itself have evolved, the investment policies of the BRICS countries have transformed, albeit in distinct ways. China and, to a lesser extent, Russia appear broadly content with the current state of affairs. Brazil, India, and South Africa, on the other hand, seem to object to current rules, which they view as overly protective of foreign investors at the expense of host state regulatory space. I argue and show that two factors – the amount of FDI outflows and regime type – usefully account for the observed variation across BRICS' international investment policies, but that more research is needed to fully understand this matter. Regardless its sources, the diversity between the BRICS countries suggests that the prospects of them shaping the rules of the global investment regime, either individually or collectively, are rather bleak.
Keywords: BRICS, International Investment Agreements, the Global Investment Regime, Emerging Market Economies
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