Pacific

Pacific states have signed 72 trade and investment agreements, 39 of which have been concluded by Australia alone.

Most of Australia’s free trade deals contain investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, including those with ASEAN and New Zealand (AANZFTA), China (ChAFTA), India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico or Turkey.

Following a dispute with Philip Morris over an anti-tobacco law, Australia claimed it would refrain from engaging into new investment agreements with ISDS. However Australia’s more recent agreements such as ChAFTA, the Indonesia FTA, the Hong Kong FTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) include ISDS.

The Philip Morris vs. Australia case is the most well-known dispute to date. When Australia introduced plain packaging for all tobacco products in 2011, Philip Morris initiated a claim against Australia before an arbitral tribunal. In its December 2015 decision, the tribunal dismissed the case, albeit on legal grounds only. Australia spent A$24 million but Philip Morris only paid half, leaving the Australian taxpayers to pay the rest.

The Pacific has been the least targeted region. Only Australian investors have initiated disputes on seven registered occasions, two of which were under the Energy Charter Treaty.

Photo: Dominic Hartnett / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(April 2020)

Sydney Morning Herald | 5-Mar-2012
The federal government is standing firm against Australian and US business demands that it allow controversial dispute settlement clauses into an ambitious new Pacific free trade deal.
| 9-Feb-2012
In a stinging indictment of the slow speed with which the higher judiciary decides cases and lackadaisical manner in which the government deals with disputes involving foreign companies doing business in India, a three-member international arbitration panel has decided a case against the Government of India and a PSU.
Philip Morris Ltd | 20-Dec-2011
"We believe plain packaging violates the Australian Constitution because the Government is seeking to acquire our property without paying compensation," the company states
Canberra Times | 25-Nov-2011
Despite the compelling rationale that the public has a stake, Philip Morris’ claims will not be heard in an Australian court by respected judges, but by an ad-hoc tribunal that will meet in Singapore or another foreign country.
| 21-Nov-2011
The Federal Government’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes have now passed both houses of Parliament but are facing their first legal challenge.
The Conversation | 25-Aug-2011
Legislation requiring tobacco products to be in plain packaging was passed by Australia’s House of Representatives last night. This is the first such measure in the world to become law.
Info Justice | 4-Aug-2011
Philip Morris asserts that fair and equitable treatment includes a right to a “stable and predictable regulatory framework” as well as rights under treaties in addition to customary international law.
| 28-Jun-2011
Tobacco giant Philip Morris suing the Australian government for introducing plain packaging laws for tobacco should send shockwaves through this country as it seeks a free trade deal involving the US, says an academic critic of the deal.
| 27-Jun-2011
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she won’t be intimidated by big tobacco after Philip Morris launched legal action to try to force the government to back down on introducing plain packaging for cigarettes.
Radio NZ | 7-Feb-2011
A top United States trade official says New Zealand is ready to accept investor-state disputes in the nine-country TransPacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP).

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