Ecuador establishes commission to audit its bilateral investment treaties

On 5 October 2013, the government of Ecuador announced that it has established a commission to audit the majority of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to which it is party. 

The commission has been given a mandate to determine, inter alia, whether the BITs violate Ecuador’s sovereignty, whether previous arbitral tribunals have misinterpreted the BITs and whether the BITs are beneficial for the country. It is reported that at least 26 BITs will be reviewed.

The commission is to include Ecuadorian government officials as well as lawyers and lobbyists from other South American countries, including Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Venezuela. The appointees include lawyers who have been involved in the defence of ICSID claims brought against Argentina and Venezuela. It is expected that the audit procedure will be similar to the audit relating to Ecuador’s external debt, which took place in 2008, the findings of which led the government of Ecuador to default on about $3.2bn (£2bn) in sovereign bonds. In fact, two members of the 2008 audit committee are also part of the new commission set up to audit Ecuador’s BITs. The commission has been given eight months to produce its report…

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