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“This victory of Uruguay should translate into an urgent call to analyze, review, renegotiate or suspend all bilateral trade and investment protection treaties signed by the country, before we are exposed once again to new lawsuits that could have less positive outcomes that the recent one with Philip Morris”.
This was the conclusion of a press release issued by REDES – Friends of the Earth Uruguay after learning about the ruling of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank body, in favor of Uruguay in the lawsuit filed by US tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) in 2010. REDES – FoE followed the case since the beginning with the coalition of Swiss civil society organizations Alliance Sud.
Early in his first term in office in 2005, Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez adopted some anti-tobacco measures, among them the prohibition to sell more than one variety per brand of cigarettes and the obligation of using 80% of the box surface for warning against the dangers of tobacco,
Philip Morris filed the lawsuit against Uruguay before the ICSID arguing that the government policies damaged their interests and violated their intellectual property rights. According to the company, there was an indirect expropriation of their investments without compensation.
The company based its lawsuit on the Investment Protection Agreement signed between Uruguay and Switzerland, where the company´s operations center is located. PMI first threatened to claim 2.5 billion dollars in compensation, which then lowered to 25 million dollars after the widespread rejection by the international public opinion against their lawsuit.
Real World Radio interviewed today activist Alberto Villarreal, member of the Economic Justice team of REDES – FOE, who followed the case of PMI vs. Uruguay during the six years it lasted.
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