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ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did not sign or ratify a single Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with any foreign country during its tenure, sources said.

An official of the Board of Investment (BoI) confirmed that no BIT was ratified or any new was signed during the tenure of the present government.

The board has signed as many as 32 BITs which provide and safeguard the investment of foreign countries working in Pakistan.

The officials maintained that a summary for new templates for signing BITs and ratification of expired BITs is pending with the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

The prime minister is chairman of 13 member board of the BoI.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) website states that Pakistan had signed 53 total BITs with various countries.

Five were terminated.

The BIT agreements were signed with 16 countries but not in-force.

The BIT contracts were signed and in-force with 32 countries.

The agreements terminated are with Malaysia, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Kuwait, and Romania.

The agreements with countries signed but not in-force are with 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.

Sources said that the board will have its own template for a BIT, which will replace the existing treaties with different countries.

And all future ones will be negotiated on the new template.

The essential element of the country's own BIT model to safeguard the interests of the state.

The government of Pakistan would not be made 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 and Pakistan also needs to revise its policy.

Venezuela, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Indonesia are among the countries which are in the process of terminating or revisiting their BIT policies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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