Asia

Asian countries have signed over 1100 international investments agreements, most of which include the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

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 (ACIA) which was adopted in 2009.

In addition, new trade deals with ISDS provisions currently concern the region: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The TPP was sealed in October 2015 between Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States and five Asian countries: Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Indonesia and Taiwan have claimed their intention to join in. The treaty has yet to be ratified.

The investment chapter has revealed the deal includes the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that would give foreign investors the right to bypass national courts and resort to a parallel system of justice specifically made for them.

RCEP is currently being negotiated between the Asian states of Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam with Australia and New Zealand.

Although still under negotiations, RCEP has been reported to include ISDS provisions. Korea and Japan have submitted proposals likely to be similar to those in their own bilateral agreements and in the TPP text. India should table a different offer.

The Indian government has been considering a revised comprehensive model of bilateral investment treaty (BIT) that would reduce investor rights, compared to other versions of ISDS. An investor would have to exhaust all local remedies before initiating international arbitration. The model BIT is expected to exclude matters relating to government procurement, taxation, subsidies, compulsory licenses and national security.

India has been the most targeted country in the region, with about 15 disputes - the vast majority of which were initiated by West European countries.

End of 2014, Sri Lanka also announced its intention to move away from traditional models of BIT. It quoted 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 plans to terminate 67 of its BITs, former president Yudhoyono arguing he did not want multinational companies to pressure developing countries. Indonesia is now in the final stage of finalizing a new model of BIT. The country is currently facing a billion-dollar dispute from UK-listed Churchill Mining and a new US$600 million claim from the Indian mining investor India Metals & Ferro Alloys.

(November 2015)

| 3-Mar-2014
Several local newspapers misread the recent decision by the Washington-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) as a verdict forcing the Indonesian government to pay over US$1 billion in compensation to the plaintiff, London-listed Churchill Mining Plc, in regard to its coal mining concessions in East Kalimantan.
Alliance News | 25-Feb-2014
The thermal coal producer said the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes rejected Indonesia’s jurisdictional challenges and it can now pursue claims for damages under the respective Bilateral Investment Treaties Indonesia entered into with the United Kingdom and Australia.
Lexology | 25-Feb-2014
The text of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) was released on 17 February 2014, following the conclusion of negotiations on 5 December 2013.
Farm Weekly | 24-Feb-2014
The Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) opens up the potential for Korean-domiciled corporations to sue Australian governments - federal, State and local - over decisions that a company believes to have unfairly affected investments they have made in Australia.
SSRN | 20-Feb-2014
Although some IIAs have generated a few disputes for technical reasons, it is rather predictable that Asian states are currently entering an era in which foreign investors are likely to multiply claims.
| 11-Feb-2014
Karkey Karadeniz Electricity Production Corporation (Karkey) has filed a memorial to the World Bank’s International Centre for Investment Disputes (ICSID) claiming $2.1 billion damages against government of Pakistan.
Fraud Intelligence | 2-Feb-2014
By losing its rights under a bilateral investment treaty against a sovereign due to corruptly securing its investment, Metal-Tech marks a seemingly growing trend of bribery playing a critical role in international investment arbitration disputes.
Indian Express | 22-Jan-2014
India’s bilateral investment treaty arbitration must be made more transparent.
FTA Watch | 8-Jan-2014
A five-minute video from FTA Watch (Thailand)
The Hindu Business Line | 2-Jan-2014
In the last couple of years, South Africa has become the unlikely champion of the anti-BIT movement.

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