Respondents are divided whether regulation of foreign ownership
of land is necessary: 54 per cent are against it and 32 per cent in
favour. The data contrasts with our 2012 survey, which had 39 per
cent against more regulation and 50 per cent in favour. This
suggests that there is growing scepticism around regulation of
"I would be cautious to advocate heavy
regulations but I think there need to be some safeguards in the
developing world because of the effect it has in terms of reducing
access to land for indigenous people."
Nick Von Westenholz, Chief executive, Crop
Respondents think that foreign investment is important for the
development of the industry in less developed jurisdictions and
regions. They also recognise that a balance needs to be struck
between countries having a certain level of protection for local
economic interests, whilst creating an attractive environment for
foreign investment. Respondents acknowledge that many local
producers do not have the means or expertise to expand their output
Many respondents also express concern for the protection of the
rights of indigenous populations as the industry develops in
Respondents acknowledge that land grabbing can be a serious
problem and that foreign investors should be incentivised to use
the land productively or lose their rights to it. Land grabbing in
Africa is thought to be a particularly difficult issue. Respondents
believe that some jurisdictions are too hasty in allowing passive
foreign ownership of land and that this has led to large areas of
potentially fertile land not being used for intended agricultural
purposes. One survey participant suggests that the World Trade
Organisation (WTO) should look closely at common rules for
ownership, so that investors and countries engaged in land
transactions can have a transparent and open market.
Water rights and access to water should be regulated, in the
view of 72 per cent of respondents. This is very much in line with
responses to our 2012 survey.
Respondents note that water is becoming a progressively scarcer
resource, particularly with rising consumption caused by
urbanisation and growing populations.
Respondents point to the difficult question of whether water is
a social or an economic commodity. There is a consensus that water
access is a key human right and that safeguards are necessary to
protect this right. However, respondents believe that coordinated
global regulation is virtually impossible to implement or enforce.
They also note that in some areas it is difficult to regulate water
given that it is a resource shared regionally.
Respondents express a sense of frustration towards the
fragmented application of laws and regulations around the world.
Almost half (47 per cent) think it is important that laws and
regulations are better coordinated across the globe, with a further
18 per cent believing this issue is absolutely critical.
Many respondents are sceptical about whether it is feasible to
synchronise laws and regulations at a global level, noting that
there is too wide a gulf in the approach to laws and regulation
from region to region and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some
respondents point to the challenges that even the EU has faced in
finding a common regulatory approach. The difficulty in initiating
a worldwide response to the global financial crisis is just one
illustration of how states and governments can struggle to
implement a unified response to global challenges.
Nevertheless, respondents recognise that harmonisation of laws
and regulations is increasingly important given the constant rise
in cross border trade. For free trade to flourish, respondents
believe that a level or near level playing field needs to
"It is part of business
Gustavo Oubinha, Managing director and head of
corporate and structured finance, Banco Rabobank International
Respondents are largely comfortable with providing confidential
information to regulators. Only 25 per cent indicate that this is
something that they are concerned about. Of these, many are anxious
about the potential loss of intellectual property to a competitor,
or at the thought of the results of R&D work being leaked into
the public domain.
Most respondents are now accustomed to sharing information with
regulators, although in some regions (such as in Asia and South
America) they are less at ease.
26 per cent of respondents are concerned that regulators may use
or share their confidential information, particularly in certain
emerging markets. Even so, respondents understand that to engage in
cross-border trade and investment, this risk is one that may have
to be accepted.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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