EU investment regime hampering progressive land policy in Congo?

In 2011 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) passed a new piece of legislation, long-awaited by peasants’ organisations since it was expected to provide support to the 70% of Congolese people who depend on farming for their livelihood. Article 16 was designed to avoid land grabbing by foreign investors. It limited access to arable lands to Congolese citizens or enterprises with majority shares held by Congolese. This provision was denounced as discriminatory by foreign investors gathered in the Fe- deration of Enterprises of Congo (FEC).


The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs expressly asked for a review of this legislation during a visit in March 2012 and pressed the DRC to ratify the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Belgium and the DRC in order to open the way for international arbitration guaranteeing investors’ interests. The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs went further, announcing to the press during an economic visit to Kinshasa (February 2015) that Germany will release €235 million for agricultural development in DRC “once the legislation (i.e. art.16) has been reviewed by the Parliament”. Partly due to this international investment pressure, the DRC has now shifted from its protectionist approach of access to arable lands in favour of small-scale farmers to a new agricultural policy aiming at creating 20 giant agro-industrial parks to attract large scale investments from agribusiness corporations. 


Concord, Spotlight. Investing for Development?, Policy Paper, 2015.


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