The News | 17 January 2024
Islamabad accepts Riyadh-Doha term to allow international arbitration incase of dispute
By Mehtab Haider
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has accepted the demands of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar for allowing to approach the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) or International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in case of any disputes on multibillion-dollar investment projects in the country.
On the Reko-Diq project, the negotiation on the exact valuation of the projects has been underway with Manara Minerals to work on the finalisation of the term sheet and valuation. The Manara Minerals Investment Company is a new venture between the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) to invest in mining assets globally and support the development of resilient global supply chains. The Reko Diq Mining Company (RMDC) has been assigned to hire levies and payment mechanisms defined for Balochistan.
On the Aramco Refinery Project, it has been decided to follow up on the project to materialise it.
Top official sources confirmed to The News on Tuesday that the investor-state dispute settlement has been agreed with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“Pakistan has negotiated to include a graduated approach for settlement of investment disputes between the state and investors. Through this arrangement, there will be a mandatory period of eight months to get the dispute resolved at the domestic forums,” said the sources.
An official said that in the case of non-resolution of disputes, it was agreed that recourse could be made to the PCA or ICSID as international forums of arbitration.
The investment chapter can be annexed with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to be signed with GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, including the process of investor and state dispute settlement through the ICSID as agreed with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which was also shared with the GCC Secretariat.
The GCC side also informed that the legally cleansed draft will be shared with Pakistani side in due course of time. The Pakistan ambassador has been assigned to follow up with the GCC Secretariat and update to be presented before the next Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) meeting.
In another significant development, the SIFC also granted its approval in principle for the establishment of National Industrial Development & Regulatory Authority (Nidra). The modalities of Nidra will be finalised in consultation with the provinces.
The Board of Investment (BOI) has been assigned to initiate the process of legislation for the proposed model under Article 147 in consultation with the provincial governments and stakeholders, including formulation of framework for unification of all existing economic and industrial zones by March 2024. Till the time of legislation, the proposed model would be initiated with the concurrence of provincial governments.
The SIFC has assigned Nadra to prepare a digitisation platform subsequently for interface of Nadra as per requirements.