Imran approves new model bilateral investment treaty – Journal

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT) whereby any dispute will now be resolved through local arbitration, revealed Board of Investment (BoI) secretary Fareena Mazhar, in an interview with a group of journalists on Sunday.

Ms. Mazhar said the government has encountered difficulties in finalizing investment treaties with some countries due to the Reko Diq affair.

She said the new model of BIT was developed in consultation with all stakeholders and with the active assistance of the Law and Justice Division and the Attorney General of Pakistan.

She explained that all new bilateral investment treaties would be negotiated according to the new model in order to minimize the risk of international arbitration and to provide political space for the government to implement economic policies of public interest.

“We are also creating a grievance mechanism through these BITs so that they do not degenerate to the level where they need to be brought before international tribunals,” she explained.

Currently, Pakistan has signed 32 bilateral investment treaties with different countries, while the BoI is likely to sign a memorandum of understanding on investment with Uzbekistan this week.

As an investment treaty between the two countries was signed in 2006 for four years, issues relating to the renewal of the treaty would be discussed at the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee Pak-Uzbekistan scheduled for July 14 and 15 in Tashkent, on BOI secretary mentioned.

On the sidelines of the joint commission meeting, a business-to-business summit will also be organized to inform investors and the Uzbek business community about the increase in investment and trade relations between the two countries. The two states are also expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the rail sector. During the meeting of the joint commission, business opportunities in food and agriculture as well as in the information technology sector, especially with regard to added value, will be explored.

The secretary of the BoI claimed that a new investment policy with a proactive approach had been devised and that a portal had been introduced with 150 foreign investment projects worth $ 50 billion. The new portal aims to facilitate investment in any project in any part of Pakistan, although projects are awarded on the basis of international competitive bidding. The main areas of investment are energy, infrastructure development, highways, dams and water sector projects.

In addition, a software program, the Investor Relations Management System (IRMS), had been introduced to serve as an “investor tracker,” she said. So far, 47 certificates of no objection have been issued to investors under the automation facilities scheme, she said, adding that avenues of corruption or extortion can only be eliminated when procedures were automated and human manipulation was reduced.

Regarding the investment target, Ms. Mazhar said an investment target of $ 3.7 billion has been set for the current fiscal year. She said packages were being finalized for priority sectors such as value-added textiles like sportswear, bags, swimwear and agri-food products like juices and jams, in addition those related to logistics, tourism and construction.

Joint ventures, SEZs

The BOI secretary said that 13 Chinese businessmen and 60 Pakistani businessmen have registered on the recently launched portal exclusively for Chinese and Pakistani joint ventures in Pakistan. She said the BoI had appointed eight honorary business advisers to China, all of Chinese nationality, to assist the business communities of the two countries on the recommendation of Pakistan’s ambassador to China.

The BOI secretary said that work on three of the nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) – in Rashakai near Nowshera, Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad and Dhabeji near Karachi – being established as part of the China Economic Corridor -Pakistan had already started, while the Sindh government would soon hire a developer for the Dhabeji economic zone. She said that the Dhabeji economic zone was promising since the 1,500 acres of land ideal for investment as it would provide access to the port of Karachi. A Chinese project had already started in Rashakai while work on the industrial city of Allama Iqbal was also underway.

Posted in Dawn, July 12, 2021


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