Latin America and Caribbean governments meeting on investment regime

Report from Guayaquil, Ecuador
08 May 2013

On 22 April, government representatives from Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and Grenadine, Venezuela, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico met in Guayaquil (Ecuador) for the 1st Ministerial Meeting of the Latin American States affected by transnational interests.

The event was an Ecuadorian initiative. Even when this issue has been on their agenda for some time, the renewed interest responds to the increasing number of lawsuits by transnational corporation at international tribunals against Latin American governments, as well as the recent multimillion dollar awards (i.e. Ecuador ordered to pay Oxy 2.3 billion US$). It also responds to the decision of some Latin American governments to terminate their BITs.

The objective of the meeting was to initiate a space of convergence and coordination at regional level of all the countries affected by the investment protection rules and the lawsuits from TNCs.  The key message, in broad lines, was “we are all being affected and we need to unite and coordinate our responses. We need mutual solidarity”.

A key result of the meeting was the signing of a Declaration, where they lay out concrete proposals to move forward with a regional coordination for a joint defence and reciprocal assistance in international arbitration processes.

Key outcomes include:

  • To have regular Intergovernmental Conferences of countries of the South for mutual assistance on issues of conflicts with TNCs. The second Conference will be held in Venezuela in July.
  •  Creation of an International Observatory to monitor state of play of international investor-state cases, propose mechanisms to reform investment arbitration, coordinate regularly with international experts, promote the creation of mechanisms for consultation between the judicial systems of Latin American States, promote joint strategies; provide the States with technical and legal advice, establish a dialogue with social movements. Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Venezuela will work on a concrete proposal for implementation of the Observatory within three months.

Governments also expressed commitment to push for the quick implementation of the UNASUR Centre for Investment Dispute Settlement.

It was clear from the discussions that the objective is to try to reach out to southern countries from other regions, like South Africa and India.

See photos of the event here.