Chris Van Es

South Africa Breaks Out

South Africa has decided to stop the automatic renewal of international investment agreements that it signed in the early post-apartheid period, and has announced that some will be terminated. It is right to do so, and other countries, one hopes, will follow suit.

NEW YORK – International investment agreements are once again in the news. The United States is trying to impose a strong investment pact within the two big so-called “partnership” agreements, one bridging the Atlantic, the other the Pacific, that are now being negotiated. But there is growing opposition to such moves.

South Africa has decided to stop the automatic renewal of investment agreements that it signed in the early post-apartheid period, and has announced that some will be terminated. Ecuador and Venezuela have already terminated theirs. India says that it will sign an investment agreement with the US only if the dispute-resolution mechanism is changed. For its part, Brazil has never had one at all.

There is good reason for the resistance. Even in the US, labor unions and environmental, health, development, and other nongovernmental organizations have objected to the agreements that the US is proposing.

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