India-Bangladesh ink pact on investment protection and promotion

Dhaka: Giving a boost to bilateral economic and security ties, India and Bangladesh on Thursday signed an agreement on investment protection and promotion according each other the Most Favoured Nation status in investments and resolved to jointly combat terrorism in all its forms.

Culminating External Affairs Minister S M Krishna`s talks with Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina and his counterpart Dipu Moni here, the two countries inked a Bilateral Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments (BIPPA) under which investments of either country would not be nationalised or expropriated except for public purpose and that too against "fair and equitable compensation."

The 10-year agreement also provides for repatriation of capital investments, non-operating profits, loan repayments, royalty payments and service fees on a non-discriminatory basis.

The agreement also envisages that national treatment and Most Favoured Nation treatment to be accorded by either country to investments from each other.

The accord was signed by Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Rajeet Mitter and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tariq A Karim in the presence of Krishna and Moni.

The two countries also signed an agreement under which India would allow transit of trucks carrying goods from Bhutan to Bangladesh, nine months after a similar deal was inked to enable Nepal and Bangladesh to trade through Indian territory.

The decision to grant transit to Bangladesh for its trade with Nepal and Bhutan was taken during Hasina`s visit to Delhi and talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in January, 2010.

Addressing a media conference, Krishna said security cooperation figured high on the agenda of his delegation-level talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart when the two countries recognised the importance of addressing each other`s security concerns.

"Both the countries expressed determination to jointly combat the menace of terrorism and insurgency and agreed not to allow their territories to be used by elements inimical to each other," Kishna said.

Moni reciprocated by assuring India that Bangladesh was "steadfast in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

Krishna said the BIPPA will facilitate two-way investment and Indian investment will generate employment in Bangladesh.

Asked about the sending back of ULFA leader Anoop Chetia, who has served out his sentence in Bangladesh, to India, Moni said her government would whole-heartedly address security concerns of New Delhi but declined to name any individual.

She expressed satisfaction at the level of security cooperation and coordination between India and Bangladesh and said that "on our part, we have reiterated to Krishna our unequivocal stand against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

Moni said the two countries have agreed to closely coordinate their activities to prevent trafficking and smuggling of arms, narcotics and fake currency notes in order to control criminal activities along the border.

She said Bangladesh has agreed to India`s proposal for a joint border management, which would be followed by the Bangladesh border guards and BSF for identified `sensitive` patches along the border. Both sides are working to finalise the plan at an early date, she added.

Moni said she conveyed to Krishna Bangladesh`s concern over the killing of its nationals along the border and sought maximum restraint.

Krishna said he had "very fruitful discussions" with Moni on a range of bilateral issues, including implementation of Joint Communique and projects under the USD one billion Line of Credit extended by India during Hasina`s visit to Delhi.

A number of the proposals received for utilisation of the USD one billion Line of Credit from India are under implementation, he added.

He said bilateral cooperation "is on a high trajectory in recent times with both sides embarking on a comprehensive, forward looking, pragmatic and mutually beneficial initiatives and projects."

Krishna said the two countries have been working together on implementation of the Joint Communique adopted by their Prime Ministers during Hasina`s visit to India and "considerable progress" has been made in this regard.

He said there has been a "significant forward movement" in India-Bangladesh cooperation in power sector, including establishment of grid connectivity up to 500 MW of power from India, of which 250 MW will be given at a preferential rate, that is the rate at which NTPC sells electricity in India.

India, Krishna said, responded positively to Bangladesh`s request for setting up of a high technology joint venture thermal power plant of 1320 MW capacity at Khulna and has completed the feasibility report.

He said the two countries have made made "substantial forward movement" in the field of water resources sharing, discussing interim water sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers.

The work on river bank protection and embankment construction along the common rivers is progressing and the dredging of Ichhamati River is nearing completion, he said.

He said both sides are engaged in a process to seek a comprehensive resolution of outstanding land boundary issues.

Moni said the two countries have undertaken a joint survey of the enclaves under adverse possession of the two sides and are expected to reach a "pragmatic" agreement taking into account the ground realities.

She said Bangladesh proposed to allow India use of Mongla and Chittagong ports.

Moni said India has already approved six projects under the USD one billion Line of Credit and at least five other projects, including supply of rail wagons and dredgers, are also expected soon.

She said the delay in implementation of the projects under the Line of Credit was largely due to the fact that both sides were working out the administrative procedures and not because there was a lack of interest or will to implement them.