As the signing of the EU-Myanmar Investment Protection Agreement (IPA) draws near, concerns over the secrecy surrounding the agreement’s negotiations and the risks it poses abound, alongside many myths about its potential benefits.
In the volatile and fragile context of Myanmar's nascent democratic reform, investment protection treaties must not be allowed to negatively affect processes that would make Myanmar more peaceful and democratic.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal under negotiation between 16 Asian countries would grant corporations exclusive rights to sue governments at international tribunals. This report reveals that investors have launched 50 lawsuits at secret international arbitration tribunals against governments negotiating the RCEP agreement for a total of at least $31 billion US dollars. These lawsuits provide a warning of the potential high costs of the proposed RCEP trade deal. RCEP will deepen the rights of investors and lock in place this system of privatised justice.
Civil society from Myanmar and the European Union are calling for the suspension of negotiations for an investment protection agreement between the EU and Myanmar until the European Court of Justice has ruled on the compatibility of the controversial Investment Court System (ICS) dispute settlement mechanism, with the EU Treaties.
518 organizations from MATA Myanmar Alliance on Transparency and Accountability and 53 organizations from Lands in Our Hand network and various other civil society organizations express their concerns about investment protection in the EU-Myanmar Agreement.
International experts have warned that the use of investment treaty ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)’ for attracting foreign investments into Myanmar is risky as it grants the investors the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against the government under international laws.
Pietje Vervest is an economic anthropologist. She has specialised in the European Union's trade and investment agenda and in the international investment regime. At TNI she coordinates the Economic Justice Programme and the Myanmar in Focus Programme, is part of the Coordination Group of the Seattle to Brussels network and is the European anchor of the Asia-Europe People's Forum.