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)

Voxy | 14-Aug-2018
A range of labour, health and environmental organisations are calling for a clause to be inserted into the CPTPP Amendment Bill that would prevent future governments from extending investor-state dispute settlement to countries seeking to join the agreement.
The Guardian | 8-Aug-2018
US energy company is seeking $350m in compensation in so-called ISDS case over gas turbines in Pilbara.
AFTINET | 30-Jul-2018
“AFTINET will present evidence today to a Senate inquiry that the TPP-11 increases corporate rights at the expense of people’s rights and the environment and should not be implemented,” AFTINET Convener Dr Patricia Ranald said today.
The Guardian | 2-Jul-2018
Two years after an FOI claim was lodged, the price of the six-year fight with Philip Morris has been revealed
Sydney Morning Herald | 20-Jun-2018
Despite this growing rejection of ISDS, the Australian government claims that ambiguous general “safeguards” in the TPP-11 will protect public interest laws.
Spatial Source | 13-Jun-2018
Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) is calling upon the federal government to scrap the CPTPP over provisions that could decimate the Australian open source community.
Mondaq | 14-May-2018
New Zealand has recently signed "side letters" to exclude compulsory Investor State Dispute Settlement with five members of the CPTPP – Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Peru, Viet Nam and Australia.
Friends of the Earth Australia | 3-May-2018
The ISDS system impedes on national sovereignty to the benefit of corporations, yet places no obligations on investors to behave responsibly, creating an asymmetric system that gives multinationals the same rights as sovereign states.
Library of Congress | 28-Mar-2018
On March 9, 2018, the New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, David Parker, announced that the government has signed “side letters” with five other countries that are also party to the TPP11 that exclude compulsory investor-state dispute settlement.
South China Morning Post | 12-Mar-2018
Political party says the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which contains similar clauses to the Hong Kong deal, could prompt more costly challenges in The Hague

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