India-US look to narrow differences on BIT next week

India-US look to narrow differences on BIT next week

India-US look to narrow differences on BIT next week

 India and the United States will try to narrow the differences on a proposed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) next week, although an early breakthrough seems unlikely.

The second India-US strategic and commercial dialogue, scheduled to be held on August 30 in New Delhi, is likely to give both sides, an opportunity to review progress in the negotiation on the proposed BIT. The two sides are likely to focus on narrowing the differences on sticky issues, but the negotiations are unlikely to conclude in the next few months, sources in New Delhi said.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will lead the delegation from Washington in the dialogue. The Indian delegation will be led by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The second dialogue will be the last major bilateral engagement between India and America before the tenure of the US president Barack Obama’s administration ends.
Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, may have a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit at Hangzhou in China early next month.

Sources told DH that the BIT would possibly be inked only after the new administration took over in Washington.

Washington, D.C. conveyed to New Delhi that it had certain reservations over India’s new model of the BIT, which would require a US investor to spend up to four years trying to resolve a dispute in local courts and negotiate for six more months before seeking arbitration by an international tribunal.

Besides, Washington, D.C. also had concerns over the absence of two clauses in the new template adopted by India – one that would have guaranteed fair treatment to a US company before it would invest in India and the other, which would have guaranteed exclusive protection to US investments in India, sources said.India and the US had three rounds of negotiations on BIT since August 2009.