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No treaty benefits for nations that fail to sign new bilateral investment treaty

Bloomberg | 10 January 2017

No treaty benefits for nations that fail to sign new bilateral investment treaty

India on Tuesday said investments from the countries which fail to re-negotiate investment protection agreement by April 1 will not get any benefit under any treaty.
Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said all the countries with which India has investment protection agreement, including European Union, were advised well in advance to re-negotiate those pacts on the basis of the new draft text of bilateral investment treaty (BIT). She said one year time was given for re-negotiation of the treaty and India has circulated the draft also.

On what will happen in absence of the new agreement, the minister said, "There will be hiatus ... Between the old one (agreement) and the new one whenever that comes into place, there will be a gap which will remain for the investors, a period without getting any cover under any treaty on investment".

She further said that India was sitting ready for re-negotiations and was waiting for 12 months.

"... in advance, we told (the countries including EU) that this is the draft copy, look at it, come back and negotiate," she told reporters.

European Commission (EC) has raised concerns over negotiations for a fresh BIT.
In December 2015, the Cabinet had approved the revised model text for the BIT with a view to enhancing protection of foreign investors in India as well as Indian investments abroad, but taxation matters would remain out of its ambit. She also said that it would be difficult to extend the April 1 deadline for India.

"If the treaty expires before April 1 or afterwords, it still means that the new draft treaty that we have put to circulation is the one which we want to be effective from April 1. There is no confusion about it," she said.

Elaborating the issue with regard to EU, with which India is negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, the minister said : "Irrespective of what happens to the trade (FTA) negotiations, investment agreement has to be negotiated from April 1, onwards or else any existing previous agreement either with individual country or with collective will all expire".

On the India-EU free trade agreement, Sitharaman said that India might have to recalibrate its position after U.K. exit from EU. She said India is waiting for dates to resume the long- stalled negotiations. EU-India are negotiating the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since June 2007 but are yet to conclude the talks.

When asked about how India is planning to take its issues with the new U.S. administration, she said India is continuously making efforts to resolve all the matters related with investments, visa regulations and totalisation pact.

"We will have to wait (till the new U.S. administration assumes office). I will wait for him (Donald Trump) to take charge and then see how things pan out," she added.

 source: Bloomberg