NAFTA

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States. It came into effect in 1994 and was the first trade agreement among developed countries to include investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions.

Over 20 years later, Canada became the third most sued developed country in the world. Of the 77 known NAFTA investor-state disputes, 35 have been filed against Canada, 22 against Mexico and 20 against the US. American investors have won 11 of their cases and the US never lost a NAFTA investor dispute or paid any compensation to Canadian or Mexican companies.

Canada has paid American corporations more than US$200 million in the nine cases it has lost or settled. Besides, Canada has spent over US$65 million in legal fees, regardless of the cases’ outcome.

Most NAFTA arbitration disputes involved challenges to environmental protection or resources management that were claimed to have interfered with the profit of US corporations.

NAFTA was recently renegotiated and replaced by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which was signed on 30 November 2018. The ISDS mechanism between the US and Canada, and between Mexico and Canada has been removed – even though it is included in the TPP, to which both countries belong. New procedures replace the ISDS between the US and Mexico. Expansive rights for investors are mostly terminated. Only limited claims are allowed after exhaustion of local remedies. But the ISDS mechanism has been maintained between the two countries for claims pertaining to Mexico’s oil and gas sector.

The most well-known cases include:

Ethyl (US) vs. Canada: case settled in 1998 for US$13 million paid to the US chemical company, in compensation for the ban of the toxic gasoline additive MMT. The ban was also lifted.

Metalclad (US) vs. Mexico: US$16.2 million awarded in 2000 to the investor, a waste management corporation, for not having been granted a construction permit for a toxic waste facility.

Loewen (Canada) vs. United States: the dispute over a funeral home contract was dismissed on far-fetched procedural grounds in 2003.

Photo: Obert Madondo / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

(March 2020)

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Public Citizen | 20-Jan-2023
The State Department requested the $15 billion case be thrown out on jurisdictional grounds, as President Joe Biden revoked the permit for the pipeline on his first day in office, long after the US-Mexico Canada Agreement was in effect.
The Monitor | 11-Jan-2023
This week’s North American Leaders’ summit is soured by dubious challenges to Mexican food and energy sovereignty.
La Jornada | 19-Dec-2022
México no tiene “muchas vulnerabilidades” para 2023. Sin embargo, la controversia en materia de libre comercio en el sector energético amenaza con minar el ánimo de inversión productiva, lo cual compromete el crecimiento y el empleo en el país, alertó Alonso Cervera, economista en jefe para América Latina de Credit Suisse.
La Jornada | 15-Dec-2022
La Secretaría de Economía (SE) ajustó la fecha en que se dará a conocer el fallo sobre el panel de controversia que interpuso México en materia de reglas de origen de la industria automotriz bajo el Tratado México, Estados Unidos y Canadá (T-MEC).
La Jornada | 5-Dec-2022
Las amenazas del gobierno de Estados Unidos de iniciar una controversia contra México en el T-MEC para asegurar que se siga importando maíz transgénico y usando glifosato son una defensa del derecho de las trasnacionales de agrotóxicos y semillas transgénicas a envenenar a la gente y contaminar semillas nativas, suelo y aguas.
América Latina Mejor sin TLC | 21-Nov-2022
El debate surgió frente a litigios internacionales como el que enfrenta el gobierno de México con la multinacional Calica en Quintana Roo.
La Jornada | 9-Nov-2022
México no está violando el Tratado México, Estados Unidos y Canadá (T-MEC) y no tiene porque pagar sanciones por las consultas solicitadas por Washington en materia energética, ya que sólo vigila el sistema eléctrico, aseguró Manuel Bartlett Díaz, director general de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).
Oil & Gas Magazine | 28-Oct-2022
En medio de las consultadas por presuntas violaciones al TMEC en energía, piden renuncia a funcionarios responsables de esas tareas.

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