Pacific

Pacific states have signed about 65 trade and investment agreements, 40 of which have been concluded by Australia alone.

Most of Australia’s trade deals specify investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, including those with China (ChAFTA, in the final stage of being ratified), India, Korea, Mexico or Turkey.

Following a dispute with Philip Morris over an anti-tobacco law, Australia claimed it would refrain from engaging into new investment agreements with ISDS.

However Australia has signed ChAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) whose investment chapter has revealed the inclusion of an ISDS mechanism that would undermine public health, the environment and other public-interest ‘safeguards’.

The Philip Morris vs. Australia case is the most well-known dispute to date. When Australia voted an anti-tobacco law forcing tobacco companies to use plain packaging, US company Philip Morris initiated an ISDS dispute through its Hong Kong-based subsidiary. It invoked the Australia-Hong Kong bilateral investment treaty (BIT) due to the non-inclusion of ISDS provisions in the Australia-US BIT. The case has been eventually dismissed on procedural grounds. More than US$35 million of taxpayer money was reported to have gone up in smoke in legal fees only.

The Pacific has been the least targeted region. Only Australian investors have initiated disputes on two registered occasions.

(January 2016)

The Conversation | 9-Oct-2015
Up until now, Australia has never agreed to provide American investors with access to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), whereas Canada has. In total Canada has faced 35 challenges. Australia has been subjected to only one case.
Australasian Lawyer | 9-Oct-2015
Law firms are among the many Australian businesses likely to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Global Trade Online | 7-Oct-2015
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries have agreed on language that will allow members to exclude tobacco control measures from the scope of investor-state dispute settlement.
Scoop | 28-Sep-2015
Gordon Campbell on New Zealand’s TPP done deal on dairy, and on investor-state disputes
| 23-Sep-2015
Under a Trans Pacific Partnership deal, foreign investors in New Zealand could be able to take international legal action against a government decision such as that which rejected a Chinese company’s bid for Lochinver Station, says an Auckland Law School senior lecturer.
GetUp! | 18-Sep-2015
Under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), multinational corporations will be able to sue the Australian Government in secret corporate courts over laws that protect our health, environment and workers’ rights.
Holding Redlich | 28-Aug-2015
Changes to Australian food labelling laws provide consumers with an increased understanding of the origin of their food. The challenge Australia faces is to ensure compliance with foreign investment trade agreements.
Financial Review | 29-Jul-2015
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb says he won’t sign off on investor-state dispute settlement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership "until we’re satisfied that there’s a carve out for public policy on health and the environment,"
The Dominion Post | 6-Jul-2015
New Zealand needs to be ready to walk away from the Trans Pacific Partnership, says The Domion Post, worried about the impact of its drug patenting rules and investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
Scoop | 30-Jun-2015
The Australian government misrepresents the claims of critics and fails to address substantial criticisms of the Trans Pacific Partnership, says civil society network AFTINET.

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