A thirst for control: water privatisation
1st March, 2004
During the past decade or so, international trade agreements have been dramatically expanded to encompass affairs that had always previously been strictly matters of domestic concern.
Water is just one example. Furthermore, investment treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement have simultaneously expanded corporations’ powers and minimised their obligations. These investment treaties have had a highly deleterious effect on government efforts to promote health, environmental protection and other social goals.
They have been invoked or threatened on at least five occasions to challenge government actions concerning water or water services.
1 Methanex vs the US The Canadian-based Methanex Corporation sued the US government for $970m in damages because of a 1999 ban by California and other US states on the fuel additive the company manufactures. The additive was banned because it has become a major contaminant of ground-water.
2 Sun Belt vs Canada The US-based firm Sun Belt Water Inc sued the federal government of Canada for $10 billion, because the Canadian province of British Columbia put a moratorium on the corporation’s plans to export local water to California. Sun Belt claimed that the ban expropriated its future profits.
3 Vivendi vs Argentina Vivendi subsidiary Compania de Aquas del Aconquija sued the federal government in Buenos Aires for $300m when...
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