Expressing concern over ‘on-again, off-again’ progress in Bilateral Investment Treaty with India, the US today said “things have become a bit more difficult” after the model draft proposed by the Indian side.
US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said there were departures from the high standards in the recent model draft BIT which India negotiated with countries like South Korea and Japan.
“One area where I would like to see greater progress is in our ability to launch negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT).
“We have been on-again off-again for about 8 years in our pursuit of a treaty. And I’m afraid things have become a bit more difficult,” he said at the Atlantic Council US-India Trade Initiative Workshop here.
The new model actually substantially narrows the scope of investments covered by the treaty and requires that disputes be exhausted in local Indian jurisdictions before alternative investor-state dispute mechanisms can be initiated, he said.
He further said both the countries will work to “narrow our gaps, but today, unfortunately those gaps do prevent us from moving forward and putting in place the kind of structural protections that investors in both our countries have come to expect in international commerce.”
The US is seeking to finalise and ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, and the hallmark of that pact is dramatically lowering or eliminating tariffs, with higher worker and environmental standards, he said.
“We are not alone in moving to this more liberalised trading model. I understand India is reviewing its trade posture and policies now.
“I also understand India must have a trade policy that addresses its unique history and developmental outlook. Similar debates are going on right now around the world,” he said.
“But I hope in the end, further integration into world trading markets and a lowering of tariff and non-tariff barriers is the path India chooses. That’s the best way to support worthy initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, Clean India and so much more,” he added.