US gives Pakistan ‘non-paper’ on BIT

Original Publication Date: 
17 August, 2006

ISLAMABAD, Aug 17: The United States has given a “non paper” to Pakistan that shows some flexibility for signing the much-delayed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the two countries soon.

Sources told Dawn on Thursday that US Ambassador to Pakistan Ryan C. Crocker had proposed the exchange of non papers between the two sides before holding a final round of talks to conclude the treaty.

Mr Crocker believed that there was a need for holding `informal talks’ in which non papers should be exchanged with each other in order to work out differences over the draft of the treaty, earlier provided by the Bush administration.

Pakistan will submit its non paper within next few days to the United States. The sources said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz while presiding over a high-level meeting recently had expressed his concern over the delay in signing the treaty. He said both the sides should hold their final round of talks to decide the issue. Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan had proposed the holding of final round of talks during the meeting.

However, the sources said Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan was not in favour of concluding the treaty unless some of the harsh clauses contained in the draft submitted by the United States were not removed.

The US side was insisting to have more than one international forum to settle investors’ disputes, while Pakistan wanted only International Centre for Settlement of Disputes (ICSD) to deal with arbitration clauses. Also, Pakistan wanted the US investors to exhaust the local remedy in Pakistani courts before opting for any international forum in case of any dispute.

The sources said the attorney general had been supported by prime minister's adviser Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada that the US should not be allowed to introduce "additional procedure" to sign the treaty.

The US side has linked the signing of BIT with the inking of free trade agreement which was being sought by Pakistan more vehemently in order to have new concessions for country's products into the United States. The proposed BIT would largely benefit the American investors wishing to invest in Pakistan.

Mr David Gross, US ambassador-at-large for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, last week met senior Pakistani officials and discussed the signing of BIT preferably within next two months.

He was quoted as having said that Pakistan and the United States had sorted out most of the issues to sign the BIT in near future. Mr Gross said that a couple of issues had left which were being deliberated upon by both the sides for concluding the treaty shortly.