The vidcast – hosted by Yael Shafrir, a trade and investment lawyer at Webber Wentzel specialising in Africa FDI and the AfCFTA, in collaboration with Africa Legal – focuses on foreign direct investment trends, public interest considerations for merger filings, key policy developments and investment promotion across the African continent.
Key for any investor looking at investing in a foreign country is a broad understanding of the legal and regulatory landscape. Sarah McKenzie, a specialist in international and domestic commercial and treaty arbitration as well as regulatory, international trade and commercial litigation, unpacks the investor due diligence that needs to be considered.
Factors such as understanding the law in relation to the investment protection available if something goes wrong, as well as understanding applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties are some of the topics that McKenzie addresses.
Burton Phillips, an expert in all aspects of competition law, discusses the type of public interest considerations being imposed in merger filings. He says there have been a significant number of developments recently, pointing to the Act, which necessitates investors considering both competition and public interest factors relevant to mergers and acquisitions.
Phillips cites the Burger King merger as one where public interest factors resulted in an initial prohibition of the transaction. He mentions that public interest factors are now considered on par with competition factors, resulting in competition practitioners becoming public interest lawyers.
A notable trend in merger approvals, says Phillips, is the employment factor, which continues to evolve, and ownership by historically disadvantaged persons and workers, both of which should be looked into at the due diligence stage.
Matthew Pool, a senior associate in the firm’s CTI team and highly experienced in general trade advisory, shares his insights of the policy areas that the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) is looking into.
He says from an industrial policy perspective, employment and investment are the top two. The International Trade Administration Commission and the DTIC want to know that applicants are committed to investment in the South African and Southern African Customs Union economies.
Pool says in the case of a tariff increase, commitments regarding job creation or retention in specified categories such as youth employment, investments in capital expenditure, investment in skills development, and training and support participation in manufacturing by small businesses, must be considered.
Shafrir chats to the panellists about the current status of the investment protocol under the African Free Trade Continental Area (AfCFTA) as well the key sectors that are prioritised by the Secretariat. Among them are automotive and affordable mobility, agribusiness and agro processing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transport and logistics.
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