India has rejected an informal proposal by the EU and Canada for a multi-lateral investment pact with a provision for an investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO). “We rejected it. We want anything to do with investments to be a bilateral thing… We do not believe in making investments a subject of multilateral disputes,” commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The informal proposal was discussed at an “informal meeting” of some major WTO members — including India, China, Brazil, Japan and Australia — in Davos last week. The informally proposed ISDS is actually part of a bilateral agreement between the EU and Canada.
Both the EU and Canada want other WTO members to agree to the regime proposed by them for dispute resolution at the multilateral level. Sitharaman said disputes against the government should ideally be settled by the domestic laws and courts first and only after that, an aggrieved party should appeal outside.
Sitharaman said India has sought concrete work plans on a special safeguard mechanism (SSM) for developing countries to protect their farmers from a spurt in imports, and a permanent solution to the issue of its official grain procurement and food security in the country, as agreed on in the Bali ministerial.