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Treaty may boost US investment in Pakistan

Friday, March 03, 2006

Treaty may boost US investment in Pakistan

By Mohammed Rizwan

LAHORE: The proposed Pakistan-US Bilateral Investment Treaty expected to be signed during President Bush’s visit to Pakistan may increase direct US investment by 8 to 9 percent.

The treaty has received a lukewarm response in Islamabad as the Board of Investment and Ministry of Commerce say it could fall short of achieving the target of US market access.

However, the Foreign Office says the treaty could lead to a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. “We are not associated with the treaty as the Board of Investment is looking after the affair,” said Federal Commerce Secretary Asif Shah. Board of Investment In-charge Minister Omar Ghumman said he was not involved and the board secretary was taking care of the negotiations.

Board of Investment Secretary Jehangir Bashr was not available for comments.

Ministry of Commerce sources said the treaty in its current form would do little to increase US investment in Pakistan. “At most, it can enhance investment volume which doesn’t really guarantee market access for Pakistani goods,” a source said.

“It is Bilateral Investment Treaty and not Free Trade Agreement which Pakistan wanted,” he said. US direct investment in Pakistan was $237 million between July and December, which could increase four times after the treaty according to the foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam. “Besides, it certainly is a step towards a Free Trade Agreement which could open US markets to Pakistan,” she said.

“Details of the treaty are being worked out and it covers promotion, protection and dispute resolution in bilateral investment,” said the spokesperson.

 source: Daily Times