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Investment bill passed in National Assembly after heated debate

Once it becomes law, the bill will replace bilateral investment treaties concluded in the late 1990s.

FILE. The Protection and Promotion of Investment Bill has been passed by the National Assembly, but only after heated debate. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Protection and Promotion of Investment Bill has been passed by the National Assembly, but only after heated debate.

Once it becomes law, the bill will replace bilateral investment treaties concluded in the late 1990s with mostly European countries, which are expiring and not being renewed.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has stoutly defended the bill, but it has come under opposition attack.

Davies says the bill will ensure that foreign investors don't get preferential treatment over local investors, as the bill will apply to all of them equally.

"South Africa, through this bill, is indicating that we will provide and continue to provide strong and reasonable protection to investments in accordance with the Constitution."

But the Democratic Alliance, along with the IFP and UDM, has slammed the bill as likely to choke off foreign investment at a time when the economy is already struggling.

DA Member of Parliament Geordin Hill Lewis said, "This bill is no welcoming invitation to the world. This is a big neon sign, on the shop front window of South Africa that screams: 'Closed for business'."

When it came to the vote, 181 were in favour, 33 against and there was one abstention.

The bill will go to the National Council of Provinces next week for concurrence before being sent to President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law.

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