Singapore signs investment treaties with Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast

Channel News Asia | 27 Aug 2014

Singapore signs investment treaties with Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast

Both Bilateral Investment Treaties aim to protect investors’ interests from the countries involved, and open up more business and investment opportunities.

SINGAPORE: The Republic entered into a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with two African nations, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, at the 3rd Africa Singapore Business Forum 2014 held in Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 27).

Singapore’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr S Iswaran, signed the Burkina Faso-Singapore BIT with Minister for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft Arthur Kafando. The Ivory Coast- Singapore BIT was signed with Minister for Commerce, Craft and SME Promotion Jean Louis Billon.

Both BITS aim to protect investors’ interests from the countries involved, and open up more business and investment opportunities. Singapore companies operating in Burkino Faso and Ivory Coast will enjoy treaty protection on top of protection under their domestic laws.

Key features of the treaties, according to the MTI release, include:

- Ensuring that our investments in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast will not be treated less favourably than other foreign investments
- Providing prompt, adequate and effective compensation in the event of nationalisation
- Allowing cross border transfer of capital and returns
- Offering international arbitration as an avenue for our investors to resolve investment disputes.

“The treaties will provide our companies operating in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast better protection and greater investment confidence, thus promoting investment flows between our countries. It also highlights the scope for greater economic cooperation between Singapore and Africa. Singapore’s ties with Africa are growing and we look forward to building stronger relations with the region," said Mr Iswaran.

OPENING UP OPPORTUNITIES

Singapore’s bilateral trade with Burkina Faso increased by 15 per cent to S$2.54 million from 2012 to 2013, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

Bilateral trade with Ivory Coast stood at S$36.1 million in 2012, and Singapore’s cumulative direct investments there amounted to S$220 million, primarily in the agriculture sector, MTI said. The new BITs will open up more opportunities in sectors such as agriculture.

Potential areas of collaboration will also be explored as bilateral exchanges grow between the countries. Currently, there are a few Singapore firms with a presence in either country, such as Olam International Limited, Agritech, and GMG Global.

Singapore’s investment into Africa has reached S$20.1 billion, an 11.2 per cent increase since 2008, said MTI. Bilateral trade has risen steadily at the rate of 11.7 per cent over the past five years, amounting to S$14.1 billion in 2013.

Other than these two treaties, Singapore also has a BIT with Mauritius and Libya. Singapore currently has 41 BITs in force.