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Countries’ Policy Space to Implement Tobacco Packaging Measures in the Light of Their International Investment Obligations: Revisiting the Philip Morris v. Uruguay Case

By Alebe Linhares Mesquita and Vivian Daniele Rocha Gabriel This Policy Brief aims to provide a concise analysis of the international investment dispute involving Philip Morris subsidiaries and the Republic of Uruguay. It depicts the main legal and political background that preceded the case, analyzes the decision reached by the arbitral tribunal, and assesses the award’s major regulatory and policy implications. It intends to contribute to the discussions on how and to what extent States can adopt tobacco control measures without violating their international obligations to protect the investment and intellectual property of tobacco companies. The main lesson that can be learned from the analysis of the Philip Morris v. Uruguay case is that investors rights are not absolute and can be relativized when there is a clash between private and public interests, such as in the case of public health. As a result, claims such as indirect expropriation and fair and equitable treatment can be dismissed. Finally, one of the main consequences is the progressive change in the design of international investment treaties, containing more provisions related to the right to regulate.

FDI and the right to regulate: Lessons from trade law

The problem of domestic regulation versus international trade and international investment. Note: This is part of a larger PDF - THE DEVELOPMENT DIMENSION OF FDI: POLICY AND RULE MAKING PERSPECTIVES Proceedings of the Expert Meeting held in Geneva from 6 to 8 November 2002

'Ticking Time Bomb': Corporate Lawyers Openly Discussing Suing Nations Over Profits Lost to Covid-19 Measures

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams. This is a major issue, Like Slovakia with its health insurance mess, in Achmea, once countries sign trade deals, they can't enact regulations that they need for common sense reasons, ISDS makes it impossible for countries to do things like close for epidemics, or limit business operations in needed ways, or (if they apply to foreign companies and their workers) It may even make it FTA illegal to raise minimum wages. Imagine if you could not fix deep seated problems like environmental risks, lack of affordable healthcare or rising education prices. That would be the US today. Thanks to ISDS and ISDS-like provisions in the WTO, now, for 20 years, corporations have always come first. This is why people can't be allowed to vote for improvements.

What's the Matter With NAFTA?

by Elaine Bernard, Harvard University School of Law. (1993) A good intro to FTA concepts and it illustrates how shamelessly we've beeen manipulated. (and for SO long too) "Here's an example from the investment chapter of NAFTA, Chapter 11. Section 4 of Article 1101 on Scope states "Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from providing a service or performing a function, such as law enforcement, correctional services, income security or insurance, social security or insurance, social welfare, public education, public training, health and child care, in a manner that is not inconsistent with this Chapter." This utterly confusing statement is a standard paragraph found in many of the chapters of NAFTA. Double negatives such as "not inconsistent" are common language in many trade agreements. They are a trade lawyer's version of a positive assertion. That is, they allow the drafters to avoid a clear assertion that something is permitted. Instead, activities are crypticly permitted as "not inconsistent." Double, indeed quadruple negatives are positive assertions. Imagine for a moment how the drafters of NAFTA would have phrased the famous quote "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" into "NAFTAese." It would probably have read, "Yes, Virginia, nothing should be construed to prevent you from believing that the existence of Santa Claus is not inconsistent with reality." But what of the substance of this clause and of similarly written clauses? Here's the real problem. Essentially, it says that the services listed in the paragraph, from corrections to childcare, from public education to social security are to be open to the various investment (and services) provisions of NAFTA. This includes giving companies the rights of national treatment, the right of establishment, and exposing these services to tri-national harmonization. Terrific! This illustrates some of the problems with both the language but also the substance of what is being proposed in this agreement. But why NAFTA, and why now? On the one hand, there is a larger economic story about globalization and the increased mobility of capital, increasing international competition, deregulation, privatization and the business quest for lower wages and higher profits. However, the specific drive behind NAFTA is a business fear that growing public demands for control, called re-regulation, over the excesses of capital and business in the last decades could lead to restrictive legislation. Business fears the possibility of a change in government in all three countries, and it realizes that it could face a change in policy. With NAFTA, business has locked in the policies of Bush, Salinas, Mulroney."

"Achmea: The Beginning of the End for ISDS in and with Europe?"

"The Achmea case essentially concerned a preliminary reference by the German Federal Court of Justice over whether EU law precluded the application of an arbitration clause in an IIA between EU member states. Slovakia had challenged before German courts the jurisdiction of an investment tribunal constituted under the Dutch–Slovak bilateral investment treaty (BIT). A Dutch investor (Achmea) had seized that investment tribunal over a partial reversal of the Slovak government’s decision in 2004 to privatize the health insurance market. In 2007 Slovakia had prohibited the distribution of profits generated by private health insurance activities. The investment tribunal considered this a breach of the BIT and awarded Achmea damages of EUR 22.1 million."

The recent Achmea case has received a lot of news coverage in Europe but almost none of it actually explains what the case was about. This PDF..

contains a factual summary (on page 13) which explains that the case was about the electoral victory in Slovakia of a candidate who ran on a platform of restoring single payer health care in the country, as well as limiting the profits of any health insurer, in the intirim period to 20% changes which which were immediately attacked in the first of two Investor vs. State arbitral lawsuits. Slovakia lost the first round. This case is also a good introduction to the sordid history of the IntraEUBITS.