Argentina faces 65bn dollars in claims; plans to abandon international litigations court

MercoPress, Uruguay

Argentina faces 65bn dollars in claims; plans to abandon international litigations court

28 November 2012

Argentina faces 42 claims at the World Bank’s ICSID in which the plaintiffs are demanding compensations for almost 65 billion dollars, revealed Eduardo Barcesat legal advisor to the Argentine Treasury and one of several lawyers who has defended the country in those litigations.

Among the 42 claims are five in which the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID, the arbitration tribunal from the World Bank has ruled against Argentina, but the country has not complied.

Argentina has not paid any of the compensations as dictated by ICSID said Barcesat who is also a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and participated in a forum in Quito relative to investment disputes organized by the Ecuadorian government.

Barcesat also said that the Argentine Lower House is considering the annulment of 59 bilateral investment treaties signed by the country, which have the World Bank’s ICSID as the arbitral tribunal for disputes between the State and multinationals.

Likewise Argentina is considering stepping down from ICSID said the lawyer who is also an advisor to the presidency of the Lower House.

The legal advisor said that the annulment process will most probably accelerate following the recent adverse decisions for Argentina in the US courts and which favour the bond hold outs that did not accept the two debt swaps of 2005 and 2010.

“The investment bilateral treaties under the umbrella of ICSID are absolutely null and void because they have entailed for Latinamerican countries dropping their legislative and jurisdictional sovereignty, which are contrary to the respective clauses in the Constitution”, argued Barcesat.

The lawyer accused the ICSID of ‘taking sides’ for the benefit of corporations and of appealing to procedures that are “grossly detrimental of the basic theory of Law”.

Barcesat said that in the future the disputes between multinational corporations and Argentina should be decided in Argentine courts or in a South American disputes arbitration court to be created, an initiative sponsored by the Ecuadorean government.

Among the ICSID rulings contrary to Argentina is the 300 million dollars compensation payment to the US companies Azurix Corp and Blue Ridge Investment for the cancelling of their public services contracts a decade ago.

Following on Argentina’s lack of payment last March the US government announced it was temporarily suspending Argentina from the benefits of the Generalized System of Preferences, GSP, which exempts tariffs to imports from developing countries.