Latin America

Latin America countries have signed over 650 trade agreements. They have been the most targeted by investor-state disputes (ISDS). About 35% of all ICSID arbitration cases have involved a Latin American state.

Argentina itself has faced almost 60 ISDS disputes, about 9% of all cases, making it the most targeted state globally. Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador have been among the ten most frequent respondents in the world.

Well-known cases such as Chevron vs. Ecuador or Pac Rim vs. El Salvador have originated in significant environmental damages caused by corporations. Philip Morris is currently suing Uruguay over its anti-tobacco law.

Besides, Chile, Mexico and Peru are party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with nine other Pacific Rim states. Its investment chapter has revealed the inclusion of ISDS provisions that would undermine public health, the environment and other public-interest ‘safeguards’.

The most well-known cases include:

• Chevron (US) vs. Ecuador: in 2013, an arbitration court ordered Ecuador to pay Chevron US$106 for breach of contract (Ecuador-United States BIT invoked). Meanwhile in a separate case, Ecuador’s highest court fined the oil giant US$9.5 billion for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest. Both cases are unresolved.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation “Oxy” (US) vs. Ecuador: in 2012 Ecuador was ordered to pay US$1.77 billion to the investor, an oil exploration and production company, for breach of contract. Sentence was reduced to US$1 billion in November 2015 (Ecuador-United States BIT invoked).

• National Grid PLC (United Kingdom) vs. Argentina: about US$50 million awarded in 2008 to the investor, a multinational electricity and gas utility company (Argentine-United Kingdom BIT invoked).

(October 2015)

Investment Treaty News | 16-Feb-2010
Corporacion Quiport S.A., the company building the new Quito international airport, has initiated arbitration proceedings at ICSID against the Republic of Ecuador in connection with its concession to maintain and operate the existing Quito airport and to construct and operate the New Quito International Airport (NQIA) being built outside Ecuador’s capital.
Amazon Defense Council | 11-Feb-2010
In a blistering attack against Chevron, lawyers for the government of Ecuador accused the oil giant of "triple forum shopping" and reneging on legally-enforceable promises in a motion asking a federal judge to shut down an international arbitration that Chevron is using to try to escape a potential $27 billion environmental liability.
EFE | 6-Feb-2010
The Ecuadorian government said Occidental Petroleum deserves no compensation for the cancellation of its massive oil concession in the Amazon region, arguing that the decision was taken after the U.S. company broke the law and its contractual obligations by handing over a stake in that project to a Canadian firm.
SR Sentinel | 22-Jan-2010
Chevron has submitted a legal motion and supporting authorities to dismiss a lawsuit that was filed by the government of Ecuador in an attempt to block a Chevron arbitration claim made under international treaty la
Courthouse News | 19-Jan-2010
Now, Texaco is asking a panel of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, which works in cooperation with the World Trade Organization, to release it from environmental liability, the communities say.
ITN | 13-Jan-2010
Spanish firms Abengoa, S.A. and COFIDES, S.A. have launched a claim with ICSID against Mexico over the stalled opening of a toxic waste disposal plant built by them in the municipality of Zimapán, approximately 200 kilometres north of Mexico City.
WSJ | 7-Dec-2009
The government of Ecuador asked a US court on Friday to intervene in its long-running environmental battle with oil giant Chevron Corp.
ITN | 7-Dec-2009
German investor Reinhard Unglaube, a resident of Costa Rica, has commenced arbitration against his host country over the latter’s refusal to grant the appropriate permits to extend his eco-tourist hotel complex in Playa Grande, Costa Rica.
ITN | 5-Nov-2009
Chilean Química e Industrial del Bórax Ltd. (“Quiborax”) will continue with its claim against Bolivia at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute (“ICSID”), despite reports of a settlement agreement and Bolivia’s renunciation of the ICSID convention. The case will likely shed the first light as to the effects of renouncing the ICSID Convention, a controversial topic over which no tribunal has yet to rule.
Dow Jones Newswires | 31-Oct-2009
Occidental is seeking $3.2 billion in damages for Ecuador’s May 2006 decision to cancel the company’s operating contract

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