Just before being elected president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxemburg, has spoken out against ISDS. The ‘Investor to State Dispute Settlement’ would be a part of the proposed EU-US trade agreement TTIP. It would deal with conflicts between investors that feel disadvantaged and states they hold responsible. Those conflicts would not be taken to regular courts but to a special dispute settlement tribunal. Mr Juncker is clearly opposed to such a provision.
Thanks to the negotiations about TTIP, the public debate about bilateral investment treaties (BITs) is slowly underway. Especially the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism’ (ISDS) of TTIP threatens to lower the norms to protect people and the environment. BITs make use of very controversial arbitrage systems (ISDS), which enable investors to bypass the national court to sue governments for their national policies and laws.
Recently, India has terminated its bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with 57 countries, including the Netherlands. This means Dutch companies in India, and Indian companies in the Netherlands, can no longer make use of the controversial arbitration procedures called ISDS. According to Burghard Ilge from Both ENDS, India's action is a step in the right direction. However it is a missed opportunity that the Dutch government did not agree with this termination. This way, old investments stay protected for 15 years under the former BIT.
On 10 October, we’ll sound the alarm against TTIP: the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. For years, the EU and the USA have negotiated behind closed doors to define the rules of the game for this bilateral treaty. Yet, it has only been a year since the Dutch are getting to know the consequences of TTIP.
TTIP means the disruption of existing regulation for the environment, labour and safety. Moreover, the promised economic growth is an illusion. Those are the clear-cut conclusions of various scientific studies.
In 2001 Tanzania and the Netherlands signed a treaty only known to a few; a so-called Bilateral Investment Treaty aimed "to extend and intensify the economic relations between them and to stimulate the flow of capital and technology and the economic development of the Contracting Parties". But signing the treaty was in fact mainly a symbolic act which since then has had little if any effect in this respect. In fact, a report by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis found that BITs have no positive effect on investment in low and lower middle income countries located in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania.
By now, TTIP, the new EU-US free trade agreement, has become a hot topic in the Netherlands too. There has been heavy protest against this trade deal from civil society organisations, scientists, lawyers and civilians, who all have set off a ‘TTIP-alarm’. How much truth is there in their concerns about TTIP? What are the implications of TTIP for the Netherlands? If you are curious to find out the answers to these questions, then come to ‘The Big TTIP Debate: The debate about the free trade agreement between the EU and US’ on Friday evening April 17th. Several speakers will discuss with each other and with the audience about the above (and many more) questions.
On June 3rd at De Balie in Amsterdam, ‘angry old man’ Yash Tandon presented his new book ‘Trade is War: The West’s War Against the World’ – a new perspective in the debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial trade agreement which the EU is currently negotiating with the US. In Europe, opponents of TTIP are mainly concerned about transparency, ever-increasing corporate power and the impact on the environment. But what does the treaty imply for North-South relations and what are the geopolitical dynamics behind it?
In 1959, Germany and Pakistan signed the first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the world. Without knowing, they marked a new era as many countries have followed their example since then. Currently, the international legal system that governs international investment flows consists of about 3000 BITs and other international investment agreements (IIAs). While originally these treaties were thought to be beneficial for the investor and the host state in terms of economic growth, increased foreign investment and development, many host states have suffered negative consequences instead of benefiting from them.