Switzerland seeks bilateral investment treaty with India

The Times of India | 4 April 2024

Switzerland seeks bilateral investment treaty with India

by TNN

New Delhi: After the India-European Free Trade
Association (EFTA) trade deal that witnessed $100 billion
investment commitment, Switzerland is now pushing for a
new bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with India and a
“red carpet” for investors from the four-nation bloc to
meet the target.

The issue of the investment treaty, a sore point with most
countries, was flagged during a bilateral meeting between
the Indian and Swiss finance ministry officials last month,
sources said.The model treaty put in place by the Indian
govt is unacceptable to most developed nations as it is
seen to be limiting the ability of foreign investors to seek
remedial action and the progress on disputes under the
Indian system is seen to be very slow.

Although the two countries are “taking stock”, the Indian
side is unwilling to offer any concessions at the moment
as it believes that the large market and a strong economic
growth in the coming years offer an attractive proposition
for overseas investors. The model agreement was put in
place after India received a few setbacks in arbitration
initiated by foreign companies, and cases that came up in
the aftermath of the 2G verdict by the Supreme Court,
which cancelled the telecom licences granted by DMK-
nominated telecom minister A Raja during UPA.

The model BIT is an area of concern not just with
Switzerland and the other three nations that are part of
EFTA, but also with the UK, which wants modifications as
part of the trade deal it has been negotiating with India.
In case of EFTA, each member will have to negotiate a
separate BIT with India.

As for the red carpet, an EFTA desk will help the
European countries to facilitate investments, which was
the focus of the commitment over 15 years. Separately,
during last month’s meeting, Switzerland has also pitched
for concessions for financial sector players, such as
insurance companies, sources said.

The Swiss side is learnt to have argued that relaxations
will create more interest in India and help meet the
investment goal.