January 06, 2012

US senators write to Obama to get BIT with India going

Washington, Jan 6 (PTI)


Top 10 American Senators have urged US President Barack Obama to expedite on going negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with India, noting that this has the potential to produce tremendous benefits to companies from both the countries.

In a letter to the US President, 10 US Senators from both the parties, who are members of the powerful Senate India Caucus, commended Obama on resuming negotiations on BIT with India.

"As members of the Senate India Caucus, we urge you to expedite the ongoing discussions about the treaty as part of a proactive engagement strategy that will produce tremendous benefits for American companies and investors, as well as for their Indian counterparts," the letter said.

The bi-partisan letter was signed by Senate India Caucus Co-Chairs Mark Warner John Cornyn and eight others: Joseph Lieberman, Kay Hutchison, Robert Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Begich, Michael Bennet, Christopher Coons and Mark Kirk.

"An investment treaty between India and the US would provide important protections to US investors from arbitrary, discriminatory or confiscatory measures, and would be enforceable by independent international arbitration," said the letter dated December 19, which was made public on yesterday.

"Such a treaty could also help facilitate additional investment in infrastructure and other priorities in India where investment is badly needed It would further provide protections to Indian companies as they expand investments in the US," the letter said.

Noting that as the world's largest free-market democracy, India has become one of the US' most critical strategic partnerships, the letter said that the country's resilient economy, fast-growing middle class, and entrepreneurial spirit have deservedly made it an attractive destination for American investment.

"Protecting this existing and future investment through a high-standard BIT should be a top priority as the United States seeks to revitalize economic opportunities for American firms and strengthen our bilateral economic relationship with an important partner," the Senators said.

They brought to the notice of Obama that many countries have already recognized and acted upon the incredible economic opportunities India represents. India has completed investment agreements with 80 countries including all major European nations ASEAN, Japan, and South Korea.

"In order to overcome the competitive disadvantage already facing American companies in the Indian marketplace, it is imperative that the United States move forward quickly to negotiate and conclude this treaty," the letter said.

"A high-standard US-India BIT would better protect our businesses and create new sales and economic opportunities, and would further solidify US-India economic relations," the Senators wrote.

The tremendous potential of a BIT with India to protect and promote growth-producing American investments abroad, attract Indian investment into the United States, put American companies on equal footing with international counterparts in India and strengthen ties with a strategic partner is too significant to ignore, they argued.

"We urge you and your Administration to move quickly on concluding a high-standard and comprehensive BIT as soon as possible, and stand ready to assist you in this endeavor," the letter said.

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