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BIT Treaty with US: Pakistan opposes inclusion of IPR

Daily Times, Lahore, March 02, 2005

BIT Treaty with US: Pakistan opposes inclusion of IPR

By Khalid Mustafa

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has refused to accept the inclusion of the Intellectual Property Rights issue in the proposed draft for a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the US and Pakistan, a senior government official told Daily Times.

The trade representative of the US had proposed the inclusion of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the definition of investment under the bilateral treaty.

“The US wants protection of intellectual property rights under the treaty and is trying to force the Government of Pakistan to include IPR in the treaty,” said the official.

Senior US and Pakistani officials met in London from February 7 to February 10 and discussed the BIT proposed by the US trade representative clause by clause. Pakistan’s team was headed by Jehangir Bashr, secretary of the Board of Investment. It was quite critical of the US proposals and picked on almost every clause.

On the large-scale violations of IPR in Pakistan, which the US has been concerned about, the official said Pakistan had “effectively banned the export of pirated CDs, and DVDs to other countries”.

The official said eight known facilities in Pakistan produced 180 million discs in 2003, nearly all of then illegally, and most were being exported to at least 46 other countries.

“Companies from the US and other developed countries that are members of IIPA suffered a loss of $68.5 million in 1999, which swelled up to $126 million in 2003.”

The official said the US also wanted protection of around $15 billion in US investments in various sectors of the Pakistani economy so far, but Pakistan feels that protection and guarantees should be provided to investment, which comes in after the BIT has been signed.

Pakistan said it would agree to the US demands if a major US company such as Microsoft invested in Pakistan and began production here.

The US has also demanded that Pakistan would have to pay damages to US companies in case of any dispute or unilateral cancellation of license and if the Pakistani government fails to compensate the affected company immediately, the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Dispute (ICSID) would pay the US company and consider the same amount as a loan given to Pakistan.

“We have discussed this demand with the US team and submitted our concerns over it,” the official said.

He said that in the next meeting on the BIT, the US team would propose answers to the concerns expressed by Pakistan. The date and venue for the meeting has not been finalised yet.

The Pakistani team asked for the next meeting to be held in Islamabad. “The US did not respond to this proposal so far,” the official said.

 source: Daily Times