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BIT with Hungary likely next month

Business Recorder | 27 January 2023

BIT with Hungary likely next month

by Mushtaq Ghumman

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Hungary are likely to finalise Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) next month during the visit of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to Budapest, well informed sources in Board of Investment (BoI) told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, the sources said, first preparatory meeting for the fourth round of negotiations on Pak-Hungary BIT was convened on January 17, 2023 in the BoI to discuss divergent points in the merged draft agreement during third round of negotiations in Islamabad.

The representatives of BoI explained that the meeting is in connection with fourth round of negotiations on BIT with Hungary which is expected to be held from 20-23 February, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary.

The Pakistani negotiating team will be headed by Secretary BOI. He highlighted that during the third round State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), National Security Division (NSD), Attorney General Office, Ministry of Law & Justice and Provincial Investment Boards of Punjab and KP supported their experts’ comments.

According to sources, all divergent points were discussed and most of the merged draft was accepted by both sides by giving minor corrections/observations on the sideline except three sticking points i.e. ‘Indirect Expropriation’, ‘Subroga-tion’, and ‘Dispute Settlement’.

Board of Investment requested the participants to share their expert views/comments on the merged draft text of third round already shared with them; particularly SBP experts may again draft their views as they had some observations during the last round with respect to transfer of funds.

It was further added that as Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was tentatively scheduled to visit Hungary on February 22, 2023, it was desirable that those negotiations were concluded during his visit, hence Pakistan was to confirm its stance well in time and accordingly all stakeholders were to share their comments on the merged draft text of third round immediately that would be shared with Hungarian side and would be further discussed in the 4th round.

The representative of PBIT, Lahore discussed portfolio investment, Most Favoured Nation (MFN) and equitable treatment and exhaustion of local remedies with respect to dispute settlement.

The Chair clarified the points and desired PBIT, Lahore to share their views/comments for further discussion in the forth round. The representative of SBP stated that SBP views/comments had already been shared and were also discussed in the third round. Further comments will be shared within the timeframe, if required.

After detailed discussion, the meeting took following decision with the mutual consent of all participants: “All stakeholders will share their expert opinion with BoI latest by February 1, 2023 so that consolidated views/comments could be further discussed in the next meeting to confirm the Pakistani stance in preparatory meeting to confirm the Pakistani stance in the 4thround of negotiations in February 2023 at Budapest, Hungry”.

The sources said, previously SBP and National Security Division had raised some objections on the BIT draft.

 source: Business Recorder