Asia

Asian countries have signed almost 2000 international investment agreements, most of which include the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that gives foreign investors the right to bypass national courts and resort to a parallel system of justice specifically made for them.

The Association of South-East Asian Nations or ASEAN (formed of Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) also provides investor protection under the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement which was adopted in 2009.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP or TPP for short) includes ISDS provisions with a carve-out for tobacco control measures.
TPP was signed on 7 March 2018 between 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It went into force on 30 December 2018 among the members who have ratified it. The US withdrew from it in January 2017.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed mega regional trade deal. It is currently being negotiated between the Asian states of Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam with Australia and New Zealand. India pulled out of RCEP in December 2019.

RCEP originally included ISDS, but following opposition from civil society groups and some governments, negotiators agreed to exclude it in September 2019. However the negotiating states said they will look into it again at a later stage and assess whether or not to include it.

India has been the most targeted country in the region, with 25 known disputes - the majority of which were initiated by West European countries. Turkey has been the most frequent home state for investors, with 35 cases.

In July 2019, Pakistan was ordered to pay over US$5 billion to Chilean and Canadian investors (Antofagasta and Barrick) which had brought an ISDS claim against the country using the Australia-Pakistan bilateral investment treaty. The case involved a gold and copper mine, for which an exploration permit had been denied. The mining companies had only invested about US$200 million.

Several governments in the region have said they would reform the mechanism. At the end of 2014, Sri Lanka announced its intention to move away from traditional models of BIT. It cited the thin relationship between BITs and foreign direct investment, past ISDS disputes and the tendency for BITs to constrain domestic policy space as reasons. Sri Lanka favours the enactment of appropriate domestic legislation to protect foreign investment.

In early 2014, Indonesia announced that it would terminate 67 of its BITs. Former president Yudhoyono argued that he did not want multinational companies to pressure developing countries. 21 BITs were terminated in 2015. Indonesia has drafted a new model of BIT, but it hasn’t been adopted yet.

In December 2015, India released a revised model BIT which, for instance, requires investors to exhaust domestic remedies (Indian courts) before turning to international arbitration and leaves out “fair and equitable treatment” provisions. Consequently India sent notices to 58 countries terminating or not renewing BITs that had expired. In January 2020, it signed a BIT with Brazil that excludes ISDS and favours dispute prevention as well as state-to-state dispute settlement.

(April 2020)

Le Figaro | 6-Aug-2021
Le gouvernement indien a publié une proposition de loi fiscale visant à mettre fin à une bataille judiciaire de plusieurs milliards de dollars l’opposant à des compagnies étrangères.
Reuters | 6-Aug-2021
India proposed scrapping a controversial law that taxed companies retrospectively, a move that could potentially settle its multi-billion-dollar tax cases with Cairn Energy and Vodafone.
The Express Tribune | 5-Aug-2021
Decision aimed at avoiding international arbitration with foreign firms .
Mint | 28-Jul-2021
The government confirmed that a French court has ordered the freezing of certain Indian assets on a petition by Britain’s Cairn Energy, which is seeking to recover USD 1.72 billion arbitration award.
CIAR Global | 19-Jul-2021
La controversia se relaciona con la cancelación por parte del Gobierno local de la isla de Hainan (China) de la segunda edición de un festival internacional de jazz programada para 2014.
Dawn | 13-Jul-2021
Pakistan Prime Minister has approved the new Bilateral Investment Treaty template whereby any dispute will now be remedied through local arbitration.
L’Echo | 8-Jul-2021
Un litige portant sur une raffinerie de pétrole et de gaz au Kazakhstan a amené à la justice belge à geler plus d’un demi-milliard d’euros de cette république sur un compte belge.
Le Figaro | 8-Jul-2021
Cairn Energy a affirmé avoir obtenu le droit de «geler» des biens immobiliers appartenant à l’Inde et situés à Paris, dans sa dernière tentative de récupérer 1,7 milliard de dollars qu’elle estime lui être dus par New Delhi.
The Tribune | 8-Jul-2021
The centrally located properties mostly comprise flats, valued at more than EUR 20 million, used by the Indian government establishment in France.
The Indian Express | 30-Jun-2021
The Mauritius investors is seeking to get Air India declared an alter ego of India in order to pursue assets of the national carrier as a strategy to enforce arbitration awards against the government.

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