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)

| 20-Jul-2005
Criticism of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) currently being considered by the U.S. Congress has focused heavily on concerns that the treaty would devastate Central American farmers who would be forced to compete with heavily subsidized U.S. agribusiness.
Znet | 16-Jul-2005
Bolivia faces an impending lawsuit for cancelling the water contract with Aguas del Illimani, the private consortium controlled by majority shareholder Suez. Thanks to a bilateral investment treaty signed between France and Bolivia, Suez has the right to sue the Bolivian government for breach of contract.
Forbes | 13-May-2005
The Argentine government said it will try to annul a ruling by the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in favour of US company CMS Energy Corp.
| 7-Apr-2005
Scotiabank has filed a $600 million US compensation claim against Argentina, claiming that "discriminatory" actions taken by Argentine authorities led to the total loss of its investment in its Scotiabank Quilmes subsidiary in 2002.
Public Citizen | 23-Feb-2005
A new study by Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch analyzes 42 NAFTA investor-state challenges and illustrates how the proposed CAFTA would extend the threat.
| 10-Feb-2005
El Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, la Asociación por la Igualdad y la Justicia, Consumidores Libres Cooperativa Ltda. de Provisión de Servicios de Acción Comunitaria, la Unión de Usuarios y Consumidores, y el Centro para el Derecho Internacional Ambiental se presentaron en calidad de Amicus Curiae, en la causa de Aguas Argentinas/Suez contra el Estado argentino.
| 12-Jan-2005
The graffiti on the walls in Quito ask if the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the US is pushing on Colombia, Peru and Ecuador means that our days are numbered.
| 12-Jan-2005
En estos días las pintas quiteñas preguntan si con el Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) que EEUU está impulsando con Colombia, Perú y Ecuador ¿tenemos los días contados?
NYT | 2-Oct-2004
In Ecuador, residents of the country’s eastern rainforest are suing Chevron Texaco. They say that the methods Texaco used to drill for oil in the 1970’s and 1980’s caused billions of dollars in environmental damage and health problems that continue today.
| 22-Sep-2004
Decision of ICSID Tribunal (July 17, 2003) in regard to objections to jurisdiction in CMS Gas Transmission Company vs The Republic of Argentina. CMS bases its claim against Argentina on a 1991 Argentina-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

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