Pakistan and India divided on SAARC investment agreement
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India remained divided on the final draft of the SAARC Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investment (SAPPI) and rules for the proposed SAARC Arbitration Council (SAC) at a meeting of the SAARC subgroup on investment and arbitration, which concluded here on Monday.
A senior government official told Daily Times that SAARC member countries did, however, agree on establishing the SAC, which will help member countries resolve investment-related disputes. The official said that member countries had agreed to further negotiations on the issue.
According to the official, Pakistan and India, the major countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, failed to agree on rules for arbitration and other details of the agreement.
Representatives from the two countries as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives met here at the Board of Investment for the third meeting of the subgroup meant to finalise the SAPPI draft before it is formally approved at a summit meeting in Dhaka next month.
The Pakistani official said India’s major concern is that Pakistan has not granted it Most Favoured Nation status, but that the issue was not in the domain of the BoI or the subgroup. This issue could be tackled only by the government of Pakistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, he said.
SAARC established an intergovernmental experts group which was later divided into two subgroups, one for the avoidance of double taxation and one on investment and arbitration. The subgroup on the avoidance of double taxation reached an agreement last week in Islamabad.
Karma Tshiteen from Bhutan, Azizur Rahman and Kazi Arifuzzaman from Bangladesh, Narinder Singh and Shyamala Shukla from India, Yoosuf Riza from the Maldives, Madhusudan Paudel and Vishwa Mangal Atreya from Nepal, Chinthaka Mendis from Sri Lanka, SAARC Secretariat officials Rajiv Chander and Subash Sharma, and Board of Investment officials, including Chairman Waseem Haqqie, attended the meeting.