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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The Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline was back in the news last week for a couple of reasons.
CIAR Global | 9-Dec-2021
México ha solicitado a un tribunal estadounidense (Distrito de Columbia) la anulación del laudo de 47 millones de dólares que un tribunal del CIADI emitió a favor de la inmobiliaria canadiense Lion Mexico Consolidated por denegación de justicia.
La Jornada | 25-Nov-2021
Las empresas extractivas no sólo son las que más utilizan el sistema de solución de controversias inversionista-Estado (ISDS por sus siglas en inglés), sino que también reciben las mayores recompensas.
Radio-Canada | 24-Nov-2021
L’entreprise TC Énergie a déposé une demande d’arbitrage en vertu des règles de l’ALENA demandant au gouvernement américain une compensation financière pour avoir annulé la construction du pipeline Keystone XL.
BNN | 23-Nov-2021
Developers of Keystone XL are seeking to recoup more than $15 billion in damages connected to President Joe Biden’s decision to yank a permit for the border-crossing oil pipeline even after construction began.
CIAR Global | 18-Nov-2021
México y Guatemala han recibido dos demandas de arbitraje de inversiones ante el Centro Internacional de Arreglo de Diferencias relativas a Inversiones (CIADI).
Courthouse News | 17-Nov-2021
An American energy firm accuses Canada of violating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has since been replaced by a new free trade deal.
CIAR Global | 23-Sep-2021
Un tribunal del CIADI ha determinado que México violó el tratado invocado en el arbitraje contra la inmobiliaria canadiense Lion Consolidated por diversas acciones tomadas por el Poder Judicial mexicano. El tribunal ha condenado a México al pago de 47 millones de dólares a la canadiense, como indemnización por los daños, más el pago de una parte proporcional de los costos del procedimiento.
La Jornada | 15-Sep-2021
A la vez de remover la estatua de Colón del Paseo de la Reforma como símbolo de dejar de exaltar visiones colonialistas, es menester para la 4T eliminar derechos corporativos entregados en el T-MEC.
CIAR Global | 7-Sep-2021
Talos acusa a la Sener de violar el Acuerdo Estados Unidos-México-Canadá (USMCA) y al Tratado Bilateral de Inversión entre México y la Unión Económica Belgo-Luxemburguesa (BLEU-BIT).

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