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)

| 22-Mar-2008
When agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. quietly filed court documents this month to overturn — and increase — a multi-million-dollar trade penalty it won against the Mexican government, the move shone a light on Chapter 11, perhaps the most controversial clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
IPS | 19-Mar-2008
Venezuela celebrated, as a triumph for countries of the developing South, Tuesday’s ruling in its favour by a British court in a legal dispute with US oil giant Exxon Mobil, which overturned an earlier court order to freeze around 12 billion dollars in Venezuelan assets.
Corporate Europe Observatory | 7-Mar-2008
Running their business via a letterbox company in the Netherlands, transnational corporations profit from the corporate-friendly Dutch tax regime and bilateral investment treaties the Netherlands has with third countries. Euro Telecom Italia (ETI), a subsidiary of Italian telecoms giant ENTEL, is one such letterbox company. ETI recently lodged a complaint with the World Bank tribunal ICSID against Bolivia for compensation, after the Bolivian government had launched a review the company’s much-criticised performance and attempted to negotiate a buy back of what used to be a public telecommunications company.
Prensa Latina | 16-Oct-2007
El embajador de Estados Unidos dijo que Panamá debe conservar pulcra su "marca país", y para ello requiere de voluntad política para modernizar su aparato judicial. Agregó que cuando un inversionista extranjero es víctima de un proceso judicial poco claro o arbitrario, ello se torna en la peor propaganda internacional
Dow Jones | 12-Oct-2007
Facing a flood of unfavorable arbitration rulings, Argentina is shifting from a legal strategy to a diplomatic one in a bid to dismiss billions of dollars in foreign investor claims arising from its 2002 financial crisis.
CNN | 3-Oct-2007
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington DC has awarded Sempra Energy approximately $172 million, including interest, to settle a 2002 dispute involving the company’s 43-percent ownership in two Argentine natural gas holding companies, Sodigas Pampeana and Sodigas Sur.
Milenio.com | 29-Aug-2007
Se trata de la primera controversia entre Guatemala y una empresa privada que deberá ser procesada y resuelta en el marco del TLC suscrito entre Estados Unidos y el bloque de Centroamérica y República Dominicana
Polaris Institute | 24-Aug-2007
French media and telecoms group Vivendi said on Tuesday it had been awarded $105 million in compensation at the end of a decade-long dispute with Argentinian authorities about a former water concession.
| 12-Jun-2007
Ecuador is furiously lobbying members of Congress to extend trade preferences, set to run out at the end of the month, that are intended to counter narcotics trafficking.
ITN | 9-May-2007
Investment Treaty News has learned that Bolivia has sent a formal notice to the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) declaring its withdrawal from the ICSID convention.

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