NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States. It came into effect in 1994 and was the first trade agreement among developed countries to include investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions.

Over 20 years later, Canada has become the third most sued developed country in the world. Of the 77 known NAFTA investor-state disputes, 35 have been filed against Canada, 22 against Mexico and 20 against the US. American investors have won 11 of their cases and the US never lost a NAFTA investor dispute or paid any compensation to Canadian or Mexican companies.

Canada has paid American corporations more than US$200 million in the seven cases it has lost and foreign investors are currently seeking over US$6 billion from the Canadian government in new disputes. Besides, Canada has spent over US$65 million in legal fees, regardless of the cases’ outcome.

Most NAFTA arbitration disputes involved challenges to environmental protection or resources management that were claimed to have interfered with the profit of US corporations.

The most well-known cases include:

Ethyl (US) vs. Canada: case settled in 1998 for US$13 million paid to the US chemical company, in compensation for the ban of the toxic gasoline additive MMT. The ban was also lifted.

Metalclad (US) vs. Mexico: US$16.2 million awarded in 2000 to the investor, a waste management corporation, for not having been granted a construction permit for a toxic waste facility.

Loewen (Canada) vs. United States: the dispute over a funeral home contract was dismissed on far-fetched procedural grounds in 2003.

(March 2016)

CIAR Global | 5-Oct-2018
En el nuevo “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA), la resolución de controversias se trata en el Capítulo 31, que establece, entre otros, una nueva dinámica de formación de tribunales.
El Salto Diario | 4-Oct-2018
En la medianoche del domingo, y tras meses de fuertes tensiones diplomáticas, los gobiernos de los Estados Unidos y de Canadá adoptaron un nuevo acuerdo comercial preliminar, junto con México, que ahora se llamaría United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA, el Acuerdo de los Estados Unidos con México y Canadá), reafirmando el papel hegemónico estadounidense. Este tipo de acuerdos provocan la precarización laboral, la bajada de salarios y daños ambientales irreversibles.
Washington Post | 4-Oct-2018
The oil business persuaded the White House to keep a number of features of the old NAFTA, including provisions that help protect US oil companies’ investments abroad and allow for tax-free transport of raw and refined products across borders.
La Jornada | 2-Oct-2018
Amplía Ottawa el acceso a lácteos. Washington cede y permite que se mantenga el mecanismo de solución de controversias
Sierra Club | 1-Oct-2018
More outsourcing of pollution and jobs, handouts to corporate polluters, and climate denial
Public Citizen | 13-Sep-2018
In letter to US Trade Representative, lawmakers say ISDS undermines state sovereignty and lawmaking.
AFL-CIO | 18-Jul-2018
Those with the means to become international wheeler-dealers can access ISDS. The rest of us have to rely on public courts—the same ones that investors say are “inadequate” to handle their needs. That’s not fair, and that’s not right.
Toronto Star | 24-Jun-2018
NAFTA is a corporate rights agreement, not a free-trade agreement in the original sense.
The Guardian | 13-Jun-2018
In arguing for a sunset clause to the Nafta trade agreement, this odious man is exposing the corruption of liberal democracy.
Common Sense Canadian | 17-May-2018
Canada’s controversial mining sector may be the driving force behind the country’s insistence on protecting foreign investors’ rights over laws that guard its own citizens and environmental values.

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