Pakistan for international dispute settlement by expanding the scope of WTO.: December 15, 2016

Pakistan for international dispute settlement by expanding the scope of WTO.: December 15, 2016

Mr. Azher Ali Choudhary, Secretary BOI, supported WTO system which would be a better option for international dispute settlement by expanding the scope of WTO to include investment disputes though the negotiations process, while speaking during the expert meeting of Establishment of a Multilateral Investment Dispute Settlement Mechanism 13-14 December, 2016 at World Trade Organization Centre, Geneva. The purpose of the meeting was to provide the opportunity for experts from governments to engage in a technical discussion of concrete elements related to the creation of a multilateral system for the resolution of investment disputes.

 

Mr. Azher Ali Choudhary, said that on the outset, let me thank Canada and European Union for hosting this event. As you know that Pakistan is the pioneer of Bilateral Investment Treaties and the first ever BIT was between Pakistan and Germany; currently we have 48 BITs besides investment chapters in FTA’s/ PTA’s that are either operative or in the process of negotiations. However, our perception is that BIT’s have not been as instrumental in getting FDI’s and sustaining them. Unilateral termination is not unknown now. On the other hand, ISDS process could be one of the reasons for causing a certain degree of skepticism regarding efficacy of BITs.

 

He further informed that Pakistan, for the moment, is reviewing the template of BITs and one of the primary point under review is the dispute settlement. We are rather apprehensive of settlement through ad hoc tribunals and are giving a serious thought to an alternative to that. We tend to subscribe to the idea of a multilateral dispute settlement system. Though we are not totally averse to improving the current system but the predominant view is that it has now limited scope for that and it could be more practical to replace it.

 

Till now we look at two models for international dispute settlement. These are International Court of Justice and WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism. As far as (International Court of Justice) ICJ process is concerned that might not be appropriate due to its particular nature that is more of a judicial process and procedures. WTO system could be a better option; I would go further to say that we may consider means to expand the scope of WTO to include investment disputes though the negotiations process there is rather too exhaustive and the culmination could take many many years. Even then, the idea needs to be given a serious thought.

 

Secondly, we would emphasize here that prior to multilateral dispute settlement there should be a system of arbitration at domestic level.

 

Thirdly, whatever comes out of the deliberations should have a retrospective effect too; Mauritius convention is a case in point.

 

Mr. Azher said that Pakistan is a developing country and under a multilateral dispute settlement a support may be made available to us as to access and to use the system. This is one of the suggestions in the paper for discussion tabled by EU and Canada that is before us today. A system similar to the current Advisory Centre for WTO Law or ACWL is a system that seems very advisable and have been great support to developing and LDC members. Moreover, ancillary to dispute settlement we need cooperation and assistance in building capacities for investment promotion and investor facilitation. At the end he appreciated the representative presence of delegates of developing countries in Geneva.

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