Asia

Asian countries have signed almost 2000 international investment agreements, most of which include the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that gives foreign investors the right to bypass national courts and resort to a parallel system of justice specifically made for them.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations or ASEAN (formed of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) also provides investor protection under the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement which was adopted in 2009.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP for short) includes ISDS provisions with a carve-out for tobacco control measures.
TPP was signed on 7 March 2018 between 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It went into force on 30 December 2018 among the members who have ratified it. The US withdrew from it in January 2017.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed mega regional trade deal. It is currently being negotiated between the Asian states of Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam with Australia and New Zealand. India pulled out of RCEP in December 2019.

RCEP originally included ISDS, but following opposition from civil society groups and some governments, negotiators agreed to exclude it in September 2019. However the negotiating states said they will look into it again at a later stage and assess whether or not to include it.

India has been the most targeted country in the region, with 25 known disputes - the majority of which were initiated by West European countries. Turkey has been the most frequent home state for investors, with 35 cases.

In July 2019, Pakistan was ordered to pay over US$5 billion to Chilean and Canadian investors (Antofagasta and Barrick) which had brought an ISDS claim against the country using the Australia-Pakistan bilateral investment treaty. The case involved a gold and copper mine, for which an exploration permit had been denied. The mining companies had only invested about US$200 million.

Several governments in the region have said they would reform the mechanism. At the end of 2014, Sri Lanka announced its intention to move away from traditional models of BIT. It cited the thin relationship between BITs and foreign direct investment, past ISDS disputes and the tendency for BITs to constrain domestic policy space as reasons. Sri Lanka favours the enactment of appropriate domestic legislation to protect foreign investment.

In early 2014, Indonesia announced that it would terminate 67 of its BITs. Former president Yudhoyono argued that he did not want multinational companies to pressure developing countries. 21 BITs were terminated in 2015. Indonesia has drafted a new model of BIT, but it hasn’t been adopted yet.

In December 2015, India released a revised model BIT which, for instance, requires investors to exhaust domestic remedies (Indian courts) before turning to international arbitration and leaves out “fair and equitable treatment” provisions. Consequently India sent notices to 58 countries terminating or not renewing BITs that had expired. In January 2020, it signed a BIT with Brazil that excludes ISDS and favours dispute prevention as well as state-to-state dispute settlement.

(April 2020)

Business Standard | 12-Apr-2021
Cairn Energy has offered to invest the entire award money in India, which includes the principal amount of $1.2 billion and interest of $500 million if the government agrees to enforce the award.
IISD | 9-Apr-2021
Un tribunal de la CPA desestimó las objeciones jurisdiccionales presentadas por India y concluyó que dicho país incumplió con el estándar de TJE bajo el TBI entre India y el Reino Unido. El caso fue iniciado por Cairn Energy.
IISD | 9-Apr-2021
Un tribunal arbitral a rejeté les objections à la compétence de l’Inde et conclu que le pays avait violé la norme TJE du TBI Inde-Royaume-Uni, dans un arbitrage lancé par Cairn Energy.
IISD | 9-Apr-2021
A PCA tribunal dismissed India’s jurisdictional objections and found it in breach of the FET standard in the India–UK BIT in an arbitration under UNCITRAL rules initiated by Cairn Energy.
Pulse | 6-Apr-2021
According to sources related to the Lone Star ISD, the tribunal is expected to give a final ruling on Lone Star versus the Korean government case that has dragged on for nine years within the first half.
Business Recorder | 25-Mar-2021
Pakistan has reportedly decided to scrap most of its existing Bilateral Investment Treaties as these pacts are shrinking the government’s policy space with respect to adopting measures of public interest.
Proactive | 24-Mar-2021
The company has appointed a leading international law firm to advise the company of its legal options, and in particular, the Australian Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Live Mint | 23-Mar-2021
India is believed to have challenged in a court in The Hague an arbitration tribunal verdict that overturned its demand for ₹10,247 crore in back taxes from Cairn Energy Plc — the second time in three months that it has refused to accept an international award against retrospective tax.
Business Standard | 19-Mar-2021
India has time till mid-April to file an appeal against an international arbitration tribunal ordering it to repay UK’s Cairn Energy Plc USD 1.2 billion-plus interest and cost, but the challenge can only be on limited grounds such as procedure not being followed.
The Online Citizen | 12-Mar-2021
Besides protection and dispute settlement, the BIT also includes several key changes in terms of application and restriction.

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