Pacific

Pacific states have signed 72 trade and investment agreements, 39 of which have been concluded by Australia alone.

Most of Australia’s free trade deals contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, including those with ASEAN and New Zealand (AANZFTA), China (ChAFTA), India, Indonesia, 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’s more recent agreements such as ChAFTA, the Indonesia FTA, the Hong Kong FTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) include ISDS.

The Philip Morris vs. Australia case is the most well-known dispute to date. When Australia introduced plain packaging for all tobacco products in 2011, Philip Morris initiated a claim against Australia before an arbitral tribunal. In its December 2015 decision, the tribunal dismissed the case, albeit on legal grounds only. Australia spent A$24 million but Philip Morris only paid half, leaving the Australian taxpayers to pay the rest.

The Pacific has been the least targeted region. Only Australian investors have initiated disputes on seven registered occasions, two of which were under the Energy Charter Treaty.

(April 2020)

World Trademark Review | 20-Sep-2014
Long-running litigation between Uruguay, which has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world, and cigarette giant Philip Morris could have direct consequences for plain packaging legislation globally. Could it also pave the way for legal action in Europe?
ABC | 14-Sep-2014
A common provision allowing foreign investors to sue host governments has become a ticking time bomb inside trade agreements. Some countries are now refusing to agree to the provision and are questioning its legal legitimacy. Jess Hill investigates.
WA Today | 29-Aug-2014
Australia risks getting swept up in a wave of litigation by foreign corporations wishing to sue over unfavourable domestic laws, experts warn, after the government rejected a bill to ban controversial trade agreements.
Computer World | 29-Aug-2014
A Senate inquiry has recommended against passing a bill that would bar Australia from entering into trade agreements that include so-called ’investor-state dispute settlement’ clauses.
Kluwer Arbitration Blog | 28-Aug-2014
Indonesia is not the only Asia-Pacific nation that is reassessing investment treaties containing provisions on Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS, especially arbitration).
Kluwer | 23-Aug-2014
While Indonesia intends to renegotiate its BITs to provide greater capacity to regulate in the public interest, the current Australian government has indicated it will consider the inclusion of ISDS on a case-by-case basis.
AFTINET | 13-Aug-2014
Australia Fair Trade and Invesment Network’s Convener, Dr Patricia Ranald, gave evidence to the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs Defense & Trade on the 6th August 2014 about the dangers of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in trade agreements.
Sydney Morning Herald | 3-Jul-2014
The Permanent Court of Arbitration has ordered that Australia will be allowed to challenge Philip Morris Asia’s right to contest Australia’s plain packaging laws, on the grounds that the company only bought shares in its Australian arm so that it could launch the case.
Gene Ethics | 24-Apr-2014
Australian PM Abbott’s trade deals with Korea, Japan and 12 other Pacific rim countries may give foreign companies the right to sue our governments for claimed losses over GM-free zones. A Greens Bill now in the Senate seeks to stop corporate predators having this right in all future treaties.
| 12-Apr-2014
The Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon have said the government will face a tough battle if it seeks to ease foreign investment restrictions.

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