Investment treaty tops Obama’s agenda

Source: Business Standard

20 Jan 2015

Prime minister, US president to address closed-door meeting between chief executives from India, US

The US is going to make a heavy-duty pitch for starting negotiations on a much-delayed bilateral investment treaty(BIT) with India even as executives from both sides meet on January 26.

The US has been urging India to begin negotiations for a BITor Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) since 2010, when President Obama last visited India.

“The government agrees that an early conclusion of the BIT negotiations will significantly improve the investment sentiments. But the US is well aware of our problems. We are revising the model BIT agreement to do away with investment-state disputes [related to telecom multinationals whose licences were cancelled]. Once that is finalised, we will be in a position to resume negotiations,” a senior official told Business Standard.

However, according to diplomatic sources, it seems American companies were “not willing to wait any further” and were putting pressure on their government to have it sealed with the new Indian administration.

Subsequently, the US has been stepping up pressure on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government to conclude the talks and sign an agreement.

“The matter has been taken up in every meeting that the new government had with American authorities,” said another official.

This will also be the most important agenda for the India-US CEO Forum that will meet on January 26; both Modi and Obama will be present. This will be followed by a joint address by the two leaders to Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India.

This meeting between Obama and Modi will be in addition to the one on January 24.

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