Business Recorder | 24 October 2021
Summary to empower BoI for renegotiating BITs gathering dust
by Wasim Iqbal
ISLAMABAD : A summary has been pending with the Prime Minister’s Secretariat which allows Board of Investment (BoI) to re-negotiate all its Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) on a new template. On July 2021, Secretary Board of Investment (BOI) Fareena Mazhar tweeted, “Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the new BIT template whereby any dispute will now be remedied through local arbitration”.
Under the new template, federal government would not be liable for private investor disputes. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mediation would be made compulsory, while foreign arbitrators would be decided in advance through consensus.
The new draft template suggests that all the investment contracts signed by state enterprises and parties would be vetted by the Ministry of Law and Justice and routed through the BoI.
Aggrieved investors would be able to approach the BoI in case of violations or delays in the implementation of the agreement by the concerned agencies. Owing to mounting litigation, different countries have reviewed their stance on bilateral investment treaties with Pakistan prompting Pakistan to revise its policy through the new template.
The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has not signed or ratified a single BIT with any foreign country during its tenure so far, sources said.
The BoI has so far signed as many as 32 BITs – with 16 not in force and five terminated - which provide and safeguard the investment of foreign nationals in Pakistan. The prime minister is chairman of the 13-member board of the BoI.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) website states that Pakistan signed 53 total BITs with various countries.
The agreements with countries signed but not in-force are : Turkey, Germany, Cambodia, Bulgaria, Morocco, Egypt, Egypt, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Czech, Philippines, Qatar, Belarus, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan.
The BITs in-force with countries include Australia, Bahrain, Bosnia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lebanon, Mauritius, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, the UAE, the UK, Uzbekistan, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, BLEU, Italy, Laos, Oman, Syria, and Kuwait.
The agreements terminated are with Malaysia, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Kuwait, and Romania. Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Indonesia are among the countries which are in the process of terminating or revisiting their BIT policies with Pakistan.