Suez Takes Argentine Government to World Bank Arbitration Panel

The global water corporations are using bilateral investment treaties (BITS) to guarantee corporate profit. The most recent potential victim is the Argentine government and taxpayers. Suez has followed through on a promise to mount investment treaty arbitrations against the Argentine Republic in relation to 3 separate water service contracts in which Suez is the majority shareholder. In July, 2003, the World Bank-based International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) registered the three claims brought by Suez against concessions based in Santa Fe, Cordoba and Buenos Aires under the terms of the French-Argentine Bilateral Investment Treaty. Along with many other utility firms operating in Argentina, Suez has been squeezed by the devaluation of the Argentine Peso and regulations to protect consumers against raising tariffs and rates. Suez attempted to impose higher consumer water rates in order to compensate for revenues paid in the declining Peso, but the government eventually intervened to protect consumers. Now Suez will try to use ICSID arbitration in an effort to make the Argentine taxpayers pay to guarantee their corporate profits.