AANZFTA Parties tackle investor-state dispute prevention and resolution

Philippines, 28 November 2018 – The Philippine Board of Investment, with support from the ASEAN Secretariat, under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP) held a two-day regional forum in Manila on “Investment Disputes, Resolution and Prevention.” The forum aimed to support AANZFTA Parties on effectively managing commitments, improving investor confidence in the AANZFTA investment environment, and increasing government confidence in investment policy making.

In addition to representatives from the AANZFTA Parties, the forum was attended by experts from academia, government, and the legal field. During the proceedings, attendees shared knowledge on a range of topics related to investor-state dispute settlement. Legal experts shared insights into recent developments and approaches to implementing investment commitments, managing legal risks, dispute prevention strategies, and international treaty and arbitral case law. Participants learned from each other and discussed potential reforms to investor-state dispute settlement and the content of investment treaties.

Lead facilitator Professor N. Jansen Calamita of the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore noted that the forum served as an opportunity to share experiences among the AANZFTA Parties and helped build the capacities of participants in considering measures for the implementation and management of investment treaty commitments. Participants reported gaining a deeper understanding on key topics including dispute prevention and resolution, investment retention, government decision-making, and coordination, as well as an awareness of the common challenges faced by member states. There was consensus among participants that the issues raised at the forum are critical to the successful development and management of foreign investment flows in their countries.

Attorney Marjorie Ramos – Samaniego, Officer-in-charge Executive Director of the Management Services Group of the Philippine Board of Investment, stated “This will greatly benefit government agencies and officials that handle ISDS matters, build capacity on the subject matter, especially with decisions arising from recent arbitration cases, latest international investment agreements and new investor-handling processes as part of the programs course of study.” The Regional Forum was also in-line with the Coordinating Committee on Investments deliverables for 2018 to further improve the investment environment in the region.

The high turnout and productive discussion opened the possibility for future targeted capacity building events related to management of investment treaty obligations and legal risk, as well as the retention of foreign direct investment (FDI). The forum was held in the context of implementing the Investment Chapter of the AANZFTA under Article 17 Section B which focuses on investment disputes between a Party and an investor.

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