Pakistan to re-negotiate bilateral investment treaties: BOI secretary

Board of Investment (BOI) Secretary Fareena Mazhar has said that Pakistan is going to re-negotiate all its Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) on the new template, adding that there is a positive initial response from partners.

Speaking at the World Investment Forum, International Investment Agreement (IIA) Conference 2021, Mazhar said the BOI is working on reforming the overall investment policy and legal framework, for which UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has agreed to assist, read a statement.

Mazhar said that presently, governments around the world are re-thinking their approach to those agreements as BITs have not been as instrumental in attracting much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI). As a result, unilateral terminations are taking place, she added.

Mazhar said Pakistan, with the assistance of UNCTAD and other local and international experts of repute, has developed the new BIT template to allow and protect genuine and sustainable investments in the country.

The BOI secretary shared that the preamble for BIT template includes attainment of SDGs, social inclusion, employment generation, reducing inequalities, poverty alleviation and empowerment, protection of human rights; maintenance of health, labor and environmental standards; and Corporate Social Responsibility; apart from promotion, facilitation and protection of investment.

Further elaborating on the new template, she apprised that the new framework has differentiated between a short-term contractor and a long-term investor; a real company and a mail-box or shell company, and that Pakistan is committed to protecting all the investments of real long-term investors.

She further mentioned that the BOI is establishing forums to address grievances before they escalate to disputes and a new dispute resolution mechanism has also been developed. Apart from local solutions, the investor will also have liberty to approach international arbitral forums, she added.