Agriculture & food

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism included in most trade and investment agreements gives foreign investors the right to challenge national laws and regulations related to agriculture and food, would these regulations represent an obstacle to their profits.

About 4% of all ICSID cases concerned agriculture, fishing and forestry issues as of end of 2014.

Most well-known cases include:

• Corn Products International (US) vs. Mexico: in 2009 US$58.4 million were awarded to the agribusiness producer of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a derived sweetener linked to obesity. The investor challenged a government tax levied on beverages sweetened with HFCS (NAFTA invoked).

• Cargill (US) vs. Mexico: US$90.7 million awarded to the food-processing giant in 2009. The investor successfully challenged the abovementioned Mexican tax on HFCS (NAFTA invoked).

• Micula (Sweden) vs. Romania: US$250 million awarded to the multiple food-processing company in 2013, following the termination of incentives from the Romanian government in order to comply with EU law (Romania-Sweden BIT invoked).

(October 2015)

Lexology | 19-Sep-2019
A federal court in Washington, DC has recognized and enforced a US$331 million arbitral award against Romania under an intra-EU BIT—notwithstanding the objection of the European Commission that the award is incompatible with EU law.
GRAIN | 2-Aug-2019
El RCEP no sólo cambiará las reglas sobre la exportación e importación de bienes y servicios; cambiará la forma en que los gobiernos deciden sobre los derechos de tierras y quiénes tienen acceso a ellos.
Romania Insider | 20-Jun-2019
The European Court of Justice on June 18 canceled a European Commission decision dating 2015, which established that Romania’s payment of compensation to Romanian-Swedish investors Ioan and Viorel Micula constituted illegal state aid. The European Commission also ordered the Romanian Government to recover the money already paid to the investors following an international court’s decision.
The Conversation | 6-Mar-2019
Indonesia – Australia CEPA signed without prior released text to assess its costs and benefits.
IISD | 11-Oct-2018
The number of known investment treaty claims concerning agricultural investments has grown rapidly in recent years. This new briefing note from IIED, IISD and CCSI helps policy makers navigate the challenges.
JDSupra | 30-Aug-2018
The Court of Appeal maintained the stay of enforcement of Viorel Micula and others v Romania award, but overturned his decision on security, ordering that Romania should provide £150 million as a term of the stay.
Sierra Club | 23-Feb-2018
The proposed policy follows the escape of over 200,000 Atlantic salmon from the company’s fish farms, sparking outcry from Indigenous groups, environmentalists, and fishing communities.
The Citizen | 5-Feb-2018
A Johannesburg businessman, trying to sue the Mozambique government for over $91 million (R1 billion), has taken the SA government to court after officials allegedly sided with the neighbouring country in the dispute.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia | 30-Jan-2018
It is now time we open up the dialogue on the kind of trade agreements that we want to see in place.

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