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)

| 1-Apr-2012
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner questioned US president Barack Obama’s recent decision to suspend trade benefits for Argentina, while complaining that “we can’t even manage to get one of our lemons to enter the US market.”
ICTSD | 29-Mar-2012
Trade frictions are on the rise between Washington and Buenos Aires, after US President Barack Obama announced that the US would be suspending Argentina from its Generalised System of Preferences programme for failure to pay arbitration awards in two disputes involving US investors.
Policymic | 29-Mar-2012
Ecuadorian communities learned from the way that Chevron’s operations flouted environmental law in the 1990’s, that once entrusted to foreign businesses their natural resources are usually squandered.
| 26-Mar-2012
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he was suspending trade benefits for Argentina because of the South American country’s failure to pay more than $300 million in compensation awards in two disputes involving American investors.
| 21-Mar-2012
The United States could soon suspend trade benefits for Argentina because of that country’s failure to pay awards in two long-running investment disputes with U.S. companies, a U.S. trade official said on Monday.
Amazon Defense Council | 17-Feb-2012
The Andean Commission of Jurists and five prestigious international law experts from around the world have joined a growing chorus of criticism targeting Chevron’s attempt to use a secret investor arbitration as part of its campaign to evade an $18 billion environmental judgment in Ecuador, according to letters released today.
The Economist | 17-Feb-2012
Argentina has never threatened to quit ICSID. Its government insists it is open to honouring the awards. The only delay, it says, is that the claimants have not brought their rulings to a local court for collection.
Amazon Defense Coalition | 1-Feb-2012
On February 11, Chevron will ask a panel of three private lawyers named as "arbitrators" under the BIT to nullify the entire nine-year Ecuadorian court process that recently found the company liable for $18 billion in clean-up costs.
AFL-CIO | 15-Dec-2011
Tomorrow, the AFL-CIO will join the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and activists from a range of labor and environmental groups to converge on the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a noon protest in opposition to a CAFTA case being brought against the Salvadoran government by Pacific Rim.
Bloomberg | 2-Sep-2011
Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. energy company, said it won a $96 million judgment against Ecuador in an international arbitration case stemming from a 1990s oil-export dispute with the Latin American nation.

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