Highlighting the accelerating pace of trade and investment between China and Africa, a new international arbitration center has been established to resolve commercial disputes between Chinese and African parties. The center, which will be called the China Africa Joint Arbitration Centre (CAJAC), will reportedly begin accepting cases in Johannesburg in October 2015 and has future plans to operate from China as well.

The new center is the result of an agreement between the Arbitration Foundation of Southern Africa (AFSA), Africa ADR (AFSA’s external arm), the Association of Arbitrators of Southern Africa, and the Shanghai International Trade Arbitration Centre. The China Law Society is also supporting the endeavor and intends to promote the CAJAC to legal and business interests in China as the preferred mechanism for resolving Chinese-African commercial disputes.

The CAJAC will provide an alternative to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), which will likely be a welcome development for African parties who may be skeptical of holding arbitrations outside the continent. The CAJAC could also be a competitor to the Mauritius Centre for International Arbitration (MIAC), which, like the CAJAC, was established with a focus on resolving disputes between Asian and African parties.

The establishment of the CAJAC is part of the growing proliferation of international arbitral institutions in Africa, as reported here.

The CAJAC could be a boost for establishing South Africa as an international commercial arbitration hub. The South African Government is considering new international arbitration legislation that is expected to be modeled on the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law, which would modernize South Africa’s international arbitration legal framework and help develop the country as a regional arbitration center. The new legislation is expected to come into effect in 2016.