Published 19 June 2020
In recent years, SEZs have proliferated both in the EU and in emerging countries, especially in China, as a means of attracting foreign investment and promoting development. In more recent times, Chinese investors have turned their attention to European SEZs, particularly in port areas. However, the particular structure of the Chinese investor system, mainly comprising State-Owned Enterprises and Sovereign Wealth Funds, was a cause for worry among the EU Member States, uncertain whether to accept the advantages of Chinese investment or to impede them in order to avoid the risk of intrusion in their strategic interests. Starting from a reconstruction of the evolution of the SEZs, this article first examines the EU norms relevant to outlining a regulatory discipline. Secondly, investigating the peculiarities of Chinese investors and Chinese strategies to attract foreign investments, the article illustrates unilateral acts and bilateral agreement norms applied by the EU as a precaution against risks generated by foreign investments. The study then identifies norms that could be added to the EU-China Agreement on Investments (CAI) to attract Chinese investment while maintaining control over them. Lastly, in the light of the effects of the COVID-19 emergency on future trade relations, some clauses are proposed that might well be inserted into the CAI to prevent further risk and emergencies.
This paper will be part of the upcoming TDM Special Issue on "The Interaction Between International Investment Law and Special Economic Zones (SEZs)". More information here www.transnational-dispute-management.com/news.asp?key=1771