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)

Dawn | 24-Aug-2005
Pakistan has asked the United States to sign the proposed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) by dropping its demand that in case of an arbitration only the Washington based International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSID) should be approached for a decision.
Indian Express | 15-Jul-2005
The Indian government and Bechtel have reached an agreement on ‘‘all issues’’ related to the Dabhol project. The settlement agreement between the two was signed on Tuesday thereby completing the entire settlement process with both stakeholders - GE and Bechtel - in the Dabhol power venture.
Newind Press | 8-Jul-2005
The Dabhol settlement process is almost complete with US-based Bechtel Corp finally informing the Indian side that it’s willing to settle and not proceed with international arbitration.
Bangkok Post | 6-May-2005
The Thai government must become more efficient and enact more ironclad laws in order to avoid unnecessary legal disputes with US investors once the Thailand-US free trade area (FTA) agreement takes effect, says a local researcher.
Philippine Star | 13-Feb-2005
Fraport AG of Germany has decided to flex its diplomatic muscle in pressing for immediate compensation from the Philippine government for their investment in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) project, under the 1997 Philippine-German bilateral investment treaty.
| 16-Sep-2004
Bechtel Enterprises Holdings, Inc. and GE Structured Finance (GESF) have filed an arbitration action against the Government of India to recover their investments in the Dabhol Power Company (DPC).
| 16-Sep-2004
The newly-appointed solicitor firm in London, Evershed, has backed out of the Dabhol arbitration case at the last minute, leaving the Union government in a quandary.
| 16-Sep-2004
BECHTEL Enterprises Holdings Inc and GE Structured Finance on Monday said that they have filed an international arbitration claim against the Government to recover their investments in Dabhol Power Company (DPC).
| 16-Sep-2004
The government of India (GoI) has sought a 60-day extension from the Arbitral Tribunal in London for filing a defence statement after GE blocked the appointment of Evershed as India’s new solicitor firm in the UK.
MTD Capital wins case against Chile | 28-May-2004
MTD Capital Bhd has won in its legal dispute against the government of Chile in respect of its investment in a housing project in the country.

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