Karachi (PR): Pakistan was the first one to sign the bilateral investment treaty with Germany in 1959 and as of today 47 Bilateral Investment Treaties had already been signed with different countries, Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between Pakistan & the United States which dragged for eight years is resumed in 2012 for conclusion. BIT would be signed in Washington during President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to the United States this year, Saleem H. Mandviwala, Minister of State & Chairman Board of Investment was talking to Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) members here at Aiwan-e-Tijarat.
He further said that the purpose of the bilateral investment agreements is to create a binding framework between the contracting states for protection and promotion of investments made in order to gain investor’s confidence. The host state take the responsibility for safety of the investor and their property in its territory under provisions of domestic and international Law. Our Investment Promotion and Protection Act of 1976 give protection to investor and their property in Pakistan.
Responding to reservations of the business community of Karachi, Saleem H. Mandviwala maintained that input of all stakeholders were taken in formulating BIT & termed it as a positive step taken by the two countries. Negating concerns that the Treaty would reduce status of Pakistan, he reassured that (‘after change of BIT language by USA’) there was no negative aspect for Pakistan anywhere in the Treaty & both countries’ interest would be equally protected without any discrimination. He said that matters like FTA; travel advisory etc. could be discussed after signing of the Treaty.
President KCCI Mian Abrar Ahmad appreciated the stance of Minister of State/Chairman Board of Investment to take the KCCI into confidence being the largest Chamber in Pakistan & the 8th largest in the world. He said that breaking the stalemate that existed for over 5-years is a great achievement in the economic history of two countries. He mentioned that the five articles were the deal breaker in 2006 when the negotiation stalemated.
· Scope and Coverage
· Transparency and Financial Services
· Claims on behalf of an Enterprise
· Investment Agreement
· Arbitration Rules
Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli emphasized on incorporating all other related matters in the Treaty. Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz urged to add mediation clauses in the treaty.
Chairman Sindh Board of Investment Muhammud Zubair Motiwala insinuated that Pak-USA BIT was a positive step to bring closer both the countries and would also lead to FTA and MFN with US. He appreciated the efforts of Board of Investment to bring the consensus of all the stakeholders on the concerns related to the Pak-US BIT. He assured that the business community is satisfied because the mutual benefits of both the countries were taken into consideration before the final stepping towards the treaty. He also emphasized to discuss the matters of travel advisory, law & order, security issues and perception of Pakistan among the US investors. He also invited the US investors to invest in the coal infrastructure & other mining projects in Pakistan. In his concluding note he informed that the business community of Pakistan welcomed the signing of BIT with US and waiting for the market access to our products in the US through the MFN and FTA.