ISLAMABAD, Aug 24: Pakistan and the United States are expected to sign the long-awaited Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in New York next month, Board of Investment Chairman Saleem H. Mandviwalla said here on Friday.

Talks between Pakistan and the US on BIT will resume in New York on August 27 to discuss unresolved issues of considerable importance leading to conclusion of the treaty.

The US government has designated a six-member team to negotiate with Pakistan delegation during the two-day talks.

Senior officials of BoI told Dawn that the draft treaty would be approved by the federal cabinet before it is signed during the visit of President Asif Zardari to the United States.

The president is to lead the Pakistan delegation to the annual General Assembly session in New York next month.

In March this year, the two countries initialled the treaty and continued deliberations on non-conforming measures to be attached with the treaty text as is integral part.

Mandviwalla expressed his confidence that the upcoming Pak-US negotiations will resolve all outstanding issues, paving the way for signing the treaty. “The signing of BIT will lead to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries resulting in market access with furtherance of exports to US markets and more investments from the United States,” he said.

The two countries started talks on BIT in 2004 and continued till 2006 but remained unresolved. After five years deadlock, the Board of Investment took the initiative to restart the negotiation process in 2011.

A number of video conferences with Washington took place to iron out the differences. Consultation with local stakeholders also picked up momentum to firm up Pakistan’s position on different issues. The United States is the largest investor in Pakistan and the conclusion of BIT will further cement economic and investment relations.

The BIT is a commitment to reciprocally promote and protect the investment thereby; Pakistani investment in US will also get the reciprocity under international law and covenants, the BoI chairman said.


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