We are currently South Asian focal points for the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) led Trade Knowledge Network (TKN). As part of our responsibilities, we have managed to formulate a group of three South Asian partners who have collaborated with us on TKN research.
Foreign Investment Contracts and Sustainable Development
We are involved in a global project dealing with Foreign Investment Contracts and their concern with sustainable development. One often gets to read press reports that portray the substantial increase in FDI in the country as one of the major achievements of the present government. However, what we focus on is the little known, and much ignored aspect of what goes on behind the scenes in negotiating the investment deals and their potential impact on SD concerns.
While we are yet to embark on a detailed project, the scooping work that we conducted for Pakistan suggests that sustainable development concerns are completely ignored in the quest to attract investors at any cost. In the case of the Kirthar National Park controversy, where the government awarded an oil exploration concession to Shell-Premier, national legislation was circumvented and finally altered to allow the deal to go through. There is absolutely no transparency in either the negotiation of the FICs in Pakistan or the arbitration of disputes, which often are referred to international arbitration. In order to incorporate SD concerns, reforms must be introduced at four levels: the contract negotiation process, the terms of the contract themselves, the dispute resolution mechanism, and alignments between the policy environment in which the investment deals are sealed and sustainable development.