Trinational civil society calls for urgent clarity in CUSMA investor-state dispute process

May 21, 2024

Unions, environmental, consumer and community organizations from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico wrote to the North American Free Trade Commission this week ahead of a United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (CUSMA) trade ministers’ meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. These groups are calling on the commission to issue a joint statement to urgently defuse the risks posed by a number of illegitimate legacy NAFTA investor-state dispute claims to public finance and climate action.

More than $20 billion USD in claims are at stake in “legacy" NAFTA claims involving events that occured after CUSMA replaced NAFTA in July 2020. These claims include the $15 billion USD TC Energy case against the U.S. for the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and Ruby River's $1.04 billion USD (at least) case against Canada regarding a failed LNG project in Quebec.

There is confusion over whether the three-year extension of NAFTA’s full investor-state dispute settlement process should allow for claims involving events that occurred after NAFTA ceased to exist. It is therefore urgent for the North American Free Trade Commission to clarify the matter in a way that will be binding on the tribunals hearing these and other “legacy” Investor–state dispute settlement cases.

Alongside the CCPA, letter signatories include United Auto Workers, BlueGreen Alliance, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Unifor, Canadian Union of Public Employees, David Suzuki Foundation, Mexican independent union SNITIS, the Mexican Organization of Organic Consumers, and many others.

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