Talks on BIT inconclusive

ISLAMABAD, Aug 29: Talks between Pakistan and the United States on the signing of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) remain inconclusive.

Officially, the talks were scheduled to conclude on August 28, but were extended till Wednesday. The US delegation, which was holding parleys with government stakeholders for the past three days, decided to extend its stay in Islamabad for a positive outcome.

A broad range of investment areas were under consideration of the US-Pakistan negotiating teams. This includes civil nuclear energy as well as defence production. The US team was holding parleys with all stakeholders including defence production and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

The US investment is expected to cover social as well as manufacturing sectors. The US negotiating team while speaking informally to a selected group of journalists here on Wednesday, expressed optimism for the signing of the BIT.

“We have extended our stay in Islamabad to sort out unresolved issues, explained members of the negotiating team. However, the team avoided comments on the final outcome of ongoing negotiations but only resorted to say that good progress was being made in talks.

The US negotiating team was hopeful of reaching consensus on unresolved issues including appointment of senior management board members of investment companies, high level of transparency in the implementation of treaty, investment laws and regulations, basic investment protection and state-to-state dispute settlements.

There is a disagreement between Pakistan and the United States on the issue of appointment of senior management board. The US team has proposed that the members of senior management board should be exempted from any sort of clearance by security agencies in Pakistan.

Whereas, the Pakistani team stressed that the security process has to be observed as any Israeli or Indian could be named on the senior management board.

Pakistan would not accept any Israeli since it does not recognize Israel nor it has diplomatic relations with that country.

Likewise, Pakistan also has reservations that Indians could also be included in the management board.

When asked about the timeframe for the signing of the BIT, the US team members avoided to give any timeframe and said the process of negotiation is yet to be completed.

The Board of Investment had expressed the hope that the signing of BIT would take place in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in which President Asif Zardari will lead Pakistani delegation.

The members of the team stated that they were negotiating with all stakeholders to find potential investment by US private sector. The US government was encouraging investors to tap the potential in Pakistan.

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