August 14, 2018: A recent study published by the Columbia University Centre for Sustainable Investment evaluates the costs and benefits for states of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions in trade and investment agreements. It concludes that expected benefits in terms of increased levels of foreign investment have not clearly materialized, whereas the costs have been unexpectedly high.
ISDS allows foreign investors to sue our Government
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
July 16, 2018: AFTINET has previously reported on decisions in 2017 and 2018 by the European Court of Justice which found that foreign investor rights to sue governments in international tribunals (ISDS) was incompatible with national sovereignty and EU law. This means the European Parliament cannot decided to ratify agreements containing ISDS, and that each national government has to vote on ratification of agreements if they contain ISDS. These decisions followed strong European public opposition to ISDS.
July 2, 2018: Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick last Friday succeeded in obtaining the total legal costs to Australia of defending its tobacco plain packaging laws in the case brought by Philip Morris tobacco company against the Australian Government under investor-state dispute settlement provisions.
June 4, 2018: Veolia, the giant French corporation which operates in Australia and world-wide, has finally lost its claim against Egypt over a waste management contract dispute in which they claimed compensation for an increase in the minimum wage under a new labour law. Its claim was for €174 million (A$268 million), and was launched in 2012.
Media Release, May 23, 2018: “ We welcome the fact that the EU mandate for the EU Australia FTA talks has dumped the controversial rights for foreign investors to sue governments in international tribunals, known as ISDS, because European courts have found that ISDS cases have undermined democratic regulation.
18 May 2018: A new book by Canadian writer Joyce Nelson, Bypassing Dystopia: Hope-filled Challenges to Corporate Rule, gives insight into the Canadian government’s dogged support of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It has been reviewed by journalist Damien Gillis here.
May 8, 2018: According to an Inside US Trade report dated May 3, Investor-State Dispute Settlement is still a key issue at the current session of North American Free Trade Agreement talks between the US, Mexico and Canada. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer appears determined to opt out of ISDS provisions, while big business groups are frantically lobbying to retain them.
April 23, 2018: ANU academic Dr Kyla Tienhaara has published research in the Journal Transnational Environmental Law showing that mining and energy industries are the most frequent users of Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms heard by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investor Disputes (ICSID), one of the two main tribunal systems that hear ISDS disputes. This poses a threat to effective measures to rapidly reduce carbon emissions.
April 3, 2018: The European Court of Justice ruled in March that Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) between two EU member states, which allows corporations to sue governments for damages over changes in domestic law, has an adverse effect on the autonomy of EU law, and is therefore incompatible with EU law.
March 19, 2018: Jim Stanford from the Australia Institute writes in The Guardian that Trump’s unilateral and xenophobic approach to trade policy is dangerous and could lead to trade conflict. He argues we need an alternative to both Trump’s unilateralism and to corporate-dominated trade deals like the TPP.