Farmland and Water: China invests abroad

By Carin Smaller, Wei Qiu, Yalan Liu on October 24, 2012

China is actively investing in agriculture abroad and is now the world's third largest source of foreign investment stocks in agriculture, behind only the U.S. and Canada.

While China has a strong domestic agricultural base, there are a few products that China does not produce in sufficient quantities, and which are needed for the food processing, manufacturing and energy sectors. This paper explores how China secures those agricultural products through trade and investment. Importantly, the policy is shifting from a strategy based on dependence on global trade to a strategy based on foreign direct investment, including through acquiring large tracts of farmland with associated water resources. The authors found reports of 86 Chinese agriculture projects covering 9 million hectares of land in developing countries. They were able to confirm the existence of 54 projects covering 4.8 million hectares.

Report details

Investment Law & Policy
Food and Agriculture
Focus area
IISD, 2012