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)

Jakarta Post | 17-May-2007
MNCs can always refer to Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to which Indonesia is a party and use the "umbrella clause" in the BIT to transform a problem that was originally a contractual dispute into an international investment dispute.
| 9-Apr-2007
Global Gold mining company submitted its claim to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a body adjunct to the World Bank, against the Government of the Republic of Armenia (ROA). The Company is trying to protect its investment rights in arbitration court.
| 22-Mar-2007
A US company mining gold in Armenia has initiated an international arbitration of its bitter dispute with Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian whom it accuses of corruption and other violations of the law.
The New Anatolian | 17-Mar-2007
Dutch investment company Saba Fakes, who claim to hold the biggest part of shares of Turkey’s second big GSM operator Telsim, is preparing to file an arbitration case at International Arbitration amounting to 19 billion dollars in reparations.
| 15-Sep-2006
Mining company Oxus Gold PLC said it is seeking an arbitration order to protect its investments in Kyrgyzstan, following the government-sponsored seizure of premises owned by Talas Gold Mining Co, Oxus’ joint venture company at Jerooy. Oxus said that representatives of Jerooyaltyn, a recently created joint venture between Kyrgyzaltyn and Global G.o.l.d, and local police forcibly took possession of the building on Thursday in direct contravention of the UK-Kyrgyz Bilateral Investment Treaty and Kyrgyz law.
| 30-Aug-2006
The Philippines and Japan have agreed to settle all disputes domestically under the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement unless the Secretaries of Trade of both countries agree to bring the dispute to an international arbitration court.
| 9-Aug-2006
"We are learning new things while we’re negotiating with the American representatives," said a Korean official who was part of the labor section negotiation team during the first round of the Korea-U.S. FTA talks, held in Washington last June. "The U.S. is demanding the introduction of a so-called ’public communication system,’ which was a term that we heard for the first time," the negotiator told Hankyoreh.
Manila Bulletin | 18-May-2006
The Philippines and Japan are moving towards adopting arbitration procedures in settling disputes to avoid lengthy and expensive court battles in protecting investments from both sides as they finalize their proposed bilateral free trade pact.
| 5-Jan-2006
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) yesterday asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision allowing the government to take over Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) only after payment of an initial P3.002 billion to the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (PIATCO) representing the proffered value of the facilities.
Khaleej Times | 5-Jan-2006
A high powered US delegation is arriving here on 18 of this month to hold talks with the Pakistani authorities to finalise the BIT, in the absence of which, Washington was unprepared to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan.

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