Rethinking Bilateral Investment Treaties: Critical Issues and Policy Choices

Press Release | March 16, 2016

A spate of mega-regional trade agreements with strong investment protection standards have been recently concluded or are currently under negotiations. The TPP (Transpacific Partnership) and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement) are prime examples of this growing trend. Way back 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).

In recent years, however, a large number of countries have faced costly international…

Philip Morris v. Australia: A Big Win for Public Health

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | December 29, 2015

Tobacco giant Philip Morris lost a major international legal battle to reverse Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws using the Australia-Hong Kong Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) of 1993. On December 17, 2015, a three-member arbitral tribunal at Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) issued an Award on Jurisdiction and Admissibility in connection to the case between Philip Morris Asia Limited and Australia.

The full text of tribunal’s Award is yet to be made public but media reports confirm that the tribunal unanimously supported Australia’s position that Philip Morris had no jurisdiction to bring the case against Australia. In other words, Australia’s plain packaging laws banning…

Joint Statement on Tenth WTO Ministerial Conference

By African and Indian CSOs | October 27, 2015

Following is the text of joint statement issued by African and Indian civil society organizations on the upcoming 10th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, which will take place during December 15-18, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The statement was released on the occasion of the Third India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi on October 27, 2015.

We, on behalf of civil society in Africa and India, write to you, the Heads of Governments in Africa’s 54 countries and India as you meet for the Third India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III) through 26-29th October in New Delhi, India. As you all deliberate on a ‘reinvigorated partnership-shared vision’,…

India-EU FTA: Time for a Fundamental Rethink?

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | October 7, 2015

India and EU would soon resume negotiations on the stalled India-EU free trade agreement. In a joint statement issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in New Delhi on Monday, both leaders expressed their “strong commitment to the EU-India Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement and committed to bring about a resumption of the negotiations as soon as possible.” With political leadership now backing the proposed agreement, the trade negotiators will sit down at the table again to thrash out the remaining issues.

The joint statement was released just hours before the US, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations reached…

Decoding India’s New Model BIT (V)

By Kavaljit Singh | Commentary | September 17, 2015

The new model BIT lay outs detailed procedural rules on the appointment of arbitrators, conduct of arbitral proceedings, transparency, award, costs and related matters. For instance, an early review mechanism has been introduced to prevent frivolous claims based on weak grounds. Further, to ensure arbitrators are impartial and free of any conflict of interest, strict disclosure norms have been introduced under which arbitrators will have to disclose in writing their existing or past relationships with any of the parties. Similarly, all documents (except confidential information) related to investment dispute will be made available to public and the tribunals shall make logistical arrangements to facilitate…