INVESTMENT TREATY WITH LATVIASenate Consideration of Treaty Document 104-12
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[Senate Treaty Document 104-12] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] 104th Congress 1st SENATE Treaty Doc. Session 104-12 _______________________________________________________________________ INVESTMENT TREATY WITH LATVIA __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting THE TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LATVIA CONCERNING THE ENCOURAGEMENT AND RECIPROCAL PROTECTION OF INVESTMENT, WITH ANNEX AND PROTOCOL, SIGNED AT WASHINGTON ON JANUARY 13, 1995 July 10, 1995.--Treaty was read the first time and, together with the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL ---------- The White House, July 10, 1995. To the Senate of the United States: With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Latvia Concerning the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment, with Annex and Protocol, signed at Washington on January 13, 1995. I transmit also, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State with respect to this Treaty. The bilateral investment Treaty (BIT) with Latvia will protect U.S. investors and assist Latvia in its efforts to develop its economy by creating conditions more favorable for U.S. private investment and thus strengthening the development of the private sector. The Treaty is fully consistent with U.S. policy toward international and domestic investment. A specific tenet of U.S. policy, reflected in this Treaty, is that U.S. investment abroad and foreign investment in the United States should receive national treatment. Under this Treaty, the Parties also agree to international law standards for expropriation and compensation for expropriation; free transfer of funds associated with investments; freedom of investments from performance requirements; fair, equitable, and most-favored- nation treatment; and the investor's or investment's freedom to choose to resolve disputes with the host government through international arbitration. I recommend that the Senate consider this Treaty as soon as possible, and give its advice and consent to ratification of the Treaty, with Annex and Protocol, at an early date. William J. Clinton. LETTER OF SUBMITTAL ---------- Department of State, Washington, June 16, 1995. The President, The White House. The President: I have the honor to submit to you the Treaty Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Latvia for the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investment, with Annex and Protocol, signed at Washington on January 13, 1995. I recommend that this Treaty, with Annex and Protocol, be transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with Latvia is based on the view that an open investment policy contributes to economic growth. This Treaty will assist Latvia in its efforts to develop its economy by creating conditions more favorable for U.S. private investment and thus strengthening the development of the private sector. It is U.S. policy, however, to advise potential treaty partners during BIT negotiations that conclusion of a BIT does not necessarily result in immediate increases in private U.S. investment flows. To date, twenty-one BITs are in force for the United States--with Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cameroon, the Congo, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Grenada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey, and Zaire. In addition to the Treaty with Latvia, the United States has signed, but not yet brought into force, BITs with Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Ecuador, Estonia, Georgia, Haiti, Jamaica, Mongolia, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The Office of the United States Trade Representative and the Department of State jointly led this BIT negotiation, with assistance from the Departments of Commerce and Treasury and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. THE U.S.-LATVIA TREATY The Treaty with the Republic of Latvia is based on the 1992 U.S. prototype BIT, and achieves all of the prototype's objectives, which are: --All forms of U.S. investment in the territory of the Republic of Latvia are covered. --Investments receive the better of national treatment or most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment both on establishment and thereafter, subject to certain specified exceptions. --Performance requirements may not be imposed upon or enforced against investments. --Expropriation can occur only in accordance with international law standards, that is, for a public purpose; in a nondis- criminatory manner; in accordance with due process of law, and upon payment of prompt, adequate, and effective compensation. --The unrestricted transfer, in a freely usable currency, of funds related to an investment is guaranteed. --Investment disputes with the host government may be brought by investors, or by their subsidiaries, to binding international arbitration as an alternative to domestic courts. The U.S.-Latvia Treaty differs from the 1992 prototype in some minor respects. It eliminates Article VIII of the 1992 prototype text which had excluded from the dispute settlement provisions of the BIT those disputes arising under the export credit, guarantee or insurance programs of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, as well as those arising under any other such official programs pursuant to which the Parties agreed to other means of settling disputes. The Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and other relevant government agencies indicated prior to this negotiation that they saw no need to maintain such a provision. The U.S.-Latvia Treaty also differs from the prototype in that it includes provisions in Article I, paragraph 1 (f) and (g), and Article II, paragraph 2, which clarify and extend the requirements of the Treaty with respect to state enterprises, and Article II, paragraph 11, which clarifies that investors should receive the better of national or MFN treatment with respect to activities associated with their investment. This additional language is discussed in further detail in the article-by-article analysis of the Treaty below. In addition, a Protocol clarifies that despite Latvia's inclusion of ownership of land in its exceptions to the Treaty's national treatment obligations in the Annex, foreign investors in Latvia can purchase land in urban areas. The following is an article-by-article analysis of the provisions of the Treaty: Preamble The Preamble states the goals of the Treaty. The Treaty is premised on the view that an open investment policy leads to economic growth. These goals include economic cooperation, increased flow of capital, a stable framework for investment, development of respect for internationally-recognized worker rights, and maximum efficiency in the use of economic resources. While the Preamble does not impose binding obligations, its statement of goals may serve to assist in the interpretation of the Treaty. Article I (Definitions) Article I sets out definitions for terms used throughout the Treaty. As a general matter, they are designed to be broad and inclusive in nature. Investment The Treaty's definition of investment is broad, recognizing that investment can take a wide variety of forms. It covers investments that are owned or controlled by nationals or companies of one of the Treaty partners in the territory of the other. Investments can be made either directly or indirectly through one or more subsidiaries, including those of third countries. Control is not specifically defined in the Treaty. Ownership of over 50 percent of the voting stock of a company would normally convey control, but in many cases the requirement could be satisfied by less than that proportion. The definition provides a non-exclusive list of assets, claims and rights that constitute investment. These include both tangible and intangible property, interests in a company or its assets, ``a claim to money or performance having economic value, and associated with an investment,'' intellectual property rights, and any right conferred by law or contract (such as government-issued licenses and permits). The requirement that a ``claim to money'' be associated with an investment excludes claims arising solely from trade transactions, such as a transaction involving only a cross- border sale of goods, from being considered investments covered by the Treaty. Under paragraph 2 of Article I, either country may deny the benefits of the Treaty to investments by companies established in the other that are owned or controlled by nationals of a third country if (1) the company is a mere shell, without substantial business activities in the home country, or (2) the third country is one with which the denying Party does not maintain normal economic relations. For example, at this time the United States does not maintain normal economic relations with, inter alia, Cuba or Libya. Paragraph 3 confirms that any alteration in the form in which an asset is invested or reinvested shall not affect its character as investment. For example, a change in the corporate form of an investment will not deprive it of protection under the Treaty. Company The definition of ``company'' is broad in order to cover virtually any type of legal entity, including any corporation, company, association, or other entity that is organized under the laws and regulations of a Party. In connection with the definition of investment, this definition also ensures that companies of a Party that establish investments in the territory of the other Party have their investments covered by the Treaty, even if the parent company is ultimately owned by non-Party nationals, although the other Party may deny the benefits of the Treaty in the limited circumstances set forth in Article I, paragraph 2. Likewise, a company of a third country that is owned or controlled by nationals or companies of a Party will also be covered. The definition also covers charitable and non-profit entities, as well as entities that are owned or controlled by the state. National The Treaty defines ``national'' as a natural person who is a national of a Party under its own laws. Under U.S. law, the term ``national'' is broader than the term ``citizen''; for example, a native of American Samoa is a national of the United States, but not a citizen. Return ``Return'' is defined as ``an amount derived from or associated with an investment.'' The Treaty provides a non- exclusive list of examples, including: profits; dividends; interest; capital gains; royalty payments; management, technical assistance or other fees; and returns in kind. The scope of this definition provides breadth to the Treaty's transfer provisions in Article IV. Associated activities The Treaty recognizes that the operation of an investment requires protections extending beyond the investment to numerous related activities. This definition provides an illustrative list of such investor activities, including operating a business facility, borrowing money, disposing of property, issuing stock and purchasing foreign exchange for imports. These activities are covered by Article II, paragraph 1, which guarantees the better of national or MFN treatment for investments and associated activities. State enterprise ``State enterprise'' is defined as an enterprise owned, or controlled through ownership interests, by a Party. Delegation ``Delegation'' is defined to include a legislative grant, government order, directive or other act which transfers governmental authority to a state enterprise or authorizes a state enterprise to exercise such authority. The definitions of ``state enterprise'' and ``delegation'' are included to clarify the scope of the obligations of Article II, paragraph 2, which provides that any governmental authority delegated to a state enterprise by a Party must be exercised in a manner consistent with the Party's obligations under the Treaty. Article II (Treatment) Article II contains the Treaty's major obligations with respect to the treatment of investment. Paragraph 1 generally ensures the better of MFN or national treatment in both the entry and post-entry phases of investment. It thus prohibits both the screening of proposed foreign investment on the basis of nationality and discriminatory measures once the investment has been made, subject to specific exceptions provided for in a separate Annex. The United States and Latvia have both reserved certain exceptions in the Annex to the Treaty, the provisions of which are discussed in the section entitled ``Annex.'' Paragraph 2 is designed to ensure that a Party cannot utilize state owned or controlled enterprises to circumvent its obligations under the Treaty. To this end, it requires each Party to observe its treaty obligations even when it chooses, for administrative or other reasons, to assign some portion of its authority to a state enterprise, such as the power to expropriate, grant licenses, approve commercial transactions, or impose quotas, fees or other charges. Paragraph 2 also supports competitive equality for investments by requiring that a Party ensure that state enterprises accord the better of national or MFN treatment in the sale of its goods or services in the Party's territory. Paragraph 3 guarantees that investment shall be granted ``fair and equitable'' treatment. It also prohibits Parties from impairing, through arbitrary or discriminatory means, the management, operation, maintenance, use, enjoyment, acquisition, expansion or disposal of investments. This paragraph sets out a minimum standard of treatment based on customary international law. In paragraph 3(c), each Party pledges to respect any obligations it may have entered into with respect to investments. Thus, in dispute settlement under Articles VI or VII, a Party would be foreclosed from arguing, on the basis of sovereignty, that it may unilaterally ignore its obligations to such investments. Paragraph 4 allows, subject to each Party's immigration laws and regulations, the entry of each Party's nationals into the territory of the other for purposes linked to investment and involving the commitment of a ``substantial amount of capital or other resources.'' This paragraph serves to render nationals of a BIT partner eligible for treaty-investor visas under U.S. immigration law and guarantees similar treatment for U.S. investors. Paragraph 5 guarantees companies the right to engage top managerial personnel of their choice, regardless of nationality. Under paragraph 6, neither Party may impose performance requirements such as those conditioning investment on the export of goods produced or the local purchase of goods or services. Such requirements are major burdens on investors. Paragraph 7 provides that each Party must provide effective means of asserting rights and claims with respect to investment, investment agreements and any investment authorizations. Under paragraph 8, each Party must make publicly available all laws, regulations, administrative practices and adjudicatory procedures pertaining to or affecting investments. Paragraph 9 recognizes that under the U.S. federal system, States of the United States may, in some instances, treat out- of-State residents and corporations in a different manner than they treat in-State residents and corporations. The Treaty provides that the national treatment commitment, with respect to the States, means treatment no less favorable than that provided to U.S. out-of-State residents and corporations. Paragraph 10 limits the Article's MFN obligation by providing that it will not apply to advantages accorded by either Party to third countries by virtue of a Party's membership in a free trade area or customs union or a future multilateral agreement under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The free trade area exception in this Treaty is analogous to the exception provided for with respect to trade in the GATT. Paragraph 11 is designed to avoid problems that U.S. businesses may face in emerging market economies. This provision makes clear that nationals and companies of either Party receive the better of national or MFN treatment with respect to a detailed list of activities associated with their investments. Article III (Expropriation) Article III incorporates into the Treaty the international law standards for expropriation and compensation. Paragraph 1 describes the general rights of investors and obligations of the Parties with respect to expropriation and nationalization. These rights also apply to direct or indirect state measures ``tantamount to expropriation or nationalization,'' and thus apply to ``creeping expropriations'' that result in a substantial deprivation of the benefit of an investment without taking of the title to the investment. Paragraph 1 further bars all expropriations or nationalizations except those that are for a public purpose; carried out in a non-discriminatory manner; subject to ``prompt, adequate, and effective compensation''; subject to due process; and accorded the treatment provided in the standards of Article II, paragraph 3. (These standards guarantee fair and equitable treatment and prohibit the arbitrary and discriminatory impairment of investment in its broadest sense.) The second sentence of paragraph 1 clarifies the meaning of ``prompt, adequate, and effective compensation.'' Compensation must be equivalent to the fair market value of the expropriated investment immediately before the expropriatory action was taken or became known (whichever is earlier); be paid without delay; include interest at a commercially reasonable rate from the date of expropriation; be fully realizable; be freely transferable; and be calculated in a freely usable currency on the basis of the prevailing market rate of exchange. Paragraph 2 entitles an investor claiming that an expropriation has occurred to prompt judicial or administrative review of the claim in the host country, including a determination of whether the expropriation and any compensation conform to international law. Paragraph 3 entitles investors to the better of national or MFN treatment with respect to losses related to war or civil disturbances, but, unlike paragraph 1, does not specify an absolute obligation to pay compensation for such losses. Article IV (Transfers) Article IV protects investors from certain government exchange controls limiting current account and capital account transfers. In paragraph 1, the Parties agree to permit ``transfers related to an investment to be made freely and without delay into and out of its territory.'' Paragraph 1 also provides a non-exclusive list of transfers that must be allowed, including returns (as defined in Article I); payments made in compensation for expropriation (as defined in Article III); payments arising out of an investment dispute; payments made under a contract, including the amortization of principal and interest payments on a loan; proceeds from the liquidation or sale of all or part of an investment; and additional contributions to capital for the maintenance or development of an investment. Paragraph 2 provides that transfers are to be made in a ``freely usable currency'' at the prevailing market rate of exchange on the date of transfer with respect to spot transactions in the currency to be transferred. ``Freely usable'' is a standard of the International Monetary Fund; at present there are five such ``freely usable'' currencies: the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, German mark, French franc and British pound sterling. Paragraph 3 recognizes that notwithstanding these guarantees, Parties may maintain certain laws or obligations that could affect transfers with respect to investments. It provides that the Parties may require reports of currency transfers and impose income taxes by such means as a withholding tax on dividends. It also recognizes that Parties may protect the rights of creditors and ensure the satisfaction of judgments in adjudicatory proceedings through their laws, even if such measures interfere with transfers. Such laws must be applied in an equitable, nondiscriminatory and good faith manner. Article V (State-State consultations) Article V provides for prompt consultation between the Parties, at either Party's request, on any matter relating to the interpretation or application of the Treaty. Article VI (State-investor dispute resolution) Article VI sets forth several means by which disputes between an investor and the host country may be settled. Article VI procedures apply to an ``investment dispute,'' a term which covers any dispute arising out of or relating to an investment authorization, an investment agreement, or to rights granted by the Treaty with respect to an investment. When a dispute arises, Article VI, paragraph 2, provides that the disputants should initially seek to resolve the dispute by consultation and negotiation, which may include non- binding third party procedures. Should such consultations fail, paragraphs 2 and 3 set forth the investor's range of choices of dispute settlement. Paragraph 2 permits the investor to: (1) employ one of the several arbitration procedures outlined in the Treaty; (2) submit the dispute to procedures previously agreed upon by the investor and the host country government in an investment agreement or otherwise; or (3) submit the dispute to the local courts or administrative tribunals of the host country. Under paragraph 3, if the investor has not submitted the dispute under the procedures in paragraph 2 and six months have elapsed from the date the dispute arose, the investor may choose among the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention arbitration, or the ICSID Additional Facility (if Convention arbitration is not available), or ad hoc arbitration using the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Paragraph 3 also recognizes that, by mutual agreement, the parties to the dispute may choose another arbitral institution or set of arbitral rules. Paragraph 4 contains the consent of the United States and the Republic of Latvia to the submission of investment disputes to binding arbitration in accordance with the choice of the investor. Paragraph 5 provides that a non-ICSID Convention arbitration shall take place in a country that is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. This requirement expands the ability of investors to obtain enforcement of their arbitral awards aboard. In addition, paragraph 6 includes a separate commitment by each Party to enforce arbitral awards rendered pursuant to Article VI procedures. Paragraph 7 provides that in any dispute settlement procedure, a Party may not invoke as a defense, counterclaim, set-off or in any other manner the fact that the company or national has received or will be reimbursed for he same damages under an insurance or guarantee contract. Paragraph 8 is included in the Treaty to ensure that ICSID arbitration will be available for investors making investments in the form of companies created under the laws of the Party with which there is a dispute. Article VII (State-State arbitration) Article VII provides for binding arbitration of disputes between the United States and the Republic of Latvia that are not resolved through consultations or other diplomatic channels. The article constitutes each Party's prior consent to arbitration. It provides for the selection of arbitrators, establishes time limits for submissions, and requires the Parties to bear the costs equally, unless otherwise directed by the Tribunal. Article VIII (Preservation of rights) Article VIII clarifies that the Treaty is meant only to establish a floor for the treatment of foreign investment. An investor may be entitled to more favorable treatment through domestic legislation, other international legal obligations, or a specific obligation assumed by a Party with respect to that investor. This provision ensures that the Treaty will not be interpreted to derogate from any entitlement to such more favorable treatment. Article IX (Measures not precluded) Paragraph 1 of Article IX reserves the right of a Party to take measures for the maintenance of public order and the fulfillment of its obligations with respect to international peace and security, as well as those measures it regards as necessary for the protection of its own essential security interests. These provisions are common in international investment agreements. The maintenance of public order would include measures taken pursuant to a Party's police powers to ensure public health and safety. International obligations with respect to peace and security would include, for example, obligations arising out of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Measures permitted by the provision on the protection of a Party's essential security interests would include security- related actions taken in time of war or national emergency; actions not arising from a state of war or national emergency must have a clear and direct relationship to the essential security interest of the Party involved. The second paragraph allows a Party to promulgate special formalities in connection with the establishment of investment, provided that the formalities do not impair the substance of any Treaty rights. Such formalities would include, for example, U.S. reporting requirements for certain inward investment. Article X (Tax policies) Paragraph 1 exhorts both countries to provide fair and equitable treatment to investors with respect to tax policies. However, tax matters are generally excluded from the coverage of the Treaty, based on the assumption that tax matters are properly covered in bilateral tax treaties. The Treaty, and particularly the dispute settlement provisions, do apply to tax matters in three areas, to the extent they are not subject to the dispute settlement provisions of a tax treaty, or, if so subject, have been raised under a tax treaty's dispute settlement procedures and are not resolved in a reasonable period of time. Pursuant to paragraph 2, the three areas where the Treaty could apply to tax matters are expropriation (Article III), transfers (Article IV) and the observance and enforcement of terms of an investment agreement or authorization (Article VI (1) (a) or (b)). These three areas are important for investors, and two of the three--expropriatory taxation and tax provisions contained in an investment agreement or authorization--are not typically addressed in tax treaties. Article XI (Application to political subdivisions) Article XI makes clear that the obligations of the Treaty are applicable to all political subdivisions of the Parties, such as provincial, State and local governments. Article XII (Entry into force, duration and termination) The Treaty enters into force thirty days after exchange of instruments of ratification and continues in force for a period of ten years. From the date of its entry into force, the Treaty applies to existing and future investments. After the ten-year term, the Treaty will continue in force unless terminated by either Party upon one year's notice. If the Treaty is terminated, all existing investments would continue to be protected under the Treaty for ten years thereafter. Annex U.S. bilateral investment treaties allow for sectoral exceptions to national and MFN treatment. The U.S. exceptions are designed to protect governmental regulatory interests and to accommodate the derogations from national treatment and, in some cases, MFN treatment in existing federal law. The U.S. portion of the Annex contains a list of sectors and matters in which, for various legal and historical reasons, the federal government or the States may not necessarily treat investments of nationals or companies of the other Party as they do U.S. investments or investments from a third country. The U.S. exceptions from national treatment are: air transportation; ocean and coastal shipping; banking, insurance, securities, and other financial services; government grants; government insurance and loan programs; energy and power production; custom house brokers, ownership of real property; ownership and operation of broadcast or common carrier radio and television stations; ownership of shares in the Communications Satellite Corporation; the provision of common carrier telephone and telegraph services; the provision of submarine cable services; use of land and natural resources; mining on the public domain; and maritime and maritime-related services. Ownership of real property, mining on the public domain, maritime and maritime-related services, and primary dealership in U.S. government securities are excluded from MFN as well as national treatment commitments. The last three sectors are exempted by the United States from MFN treatment obligations because of U.S. laws that require reciprocity. Enforcement of reciprocity provisions could deny both national and MFN treatment. The United States listing of a sector does not necessarily signify that domestic laws have entirely reserved it for nationals. Future restrictions or limitations on foreign investment are only permitted in the sectors listed; must be made on an MFN basis, unless otherwise specified in the Annex; and must be appropriately notified. Any additional restrictions or limitations which a Party may adopt with respect to listed sectors may not affect existing investments. Because the U.S. exceptions to national treatment and MFN treatment are based on existing U.S. law, they are not altered during negotiations. The Republic of Latvia's exceptions to national treatment are: control of defense industries; manufacturing and sales of narcotics, weapons and explosives; control of newspapers, television and radio broadcasting stations, or news agencies; recovery of all renewable and non-renewable natural resources including resources found on the continental shelf; fishing; hunting; port management; banking; ownership and control of land; brokerage of real property; and gambling. These exceptions were based on provisions of investment measures currently in force or under active consideration by the Government of the Republic of Latvia. The Republic of Latvia has not reserved any sectoral exceptions to MFN treatment in the Annex. Protocol In a Protocol to the Treaty, the two sides clarify that despite Latvia's inclusion of ``ownership and control of land'' in paragraph 3 of the Annex, current Latvian legislation permits foreign investors to own or control land in ``urban'' areas, as defined under Latvian laws. The other U.S. Government agencies which negotiated the Treaty join me in recommending that it be transmitted to the Senate at an early date. Respectfully submitted, Strobe Talbott.