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The Netherlands is keen to have a bilateral investment protection agreement with India and is fully backing the proposed India -EU free trade agreement (FTA), the country’s deputy prime minister Wopke Hoekstra said at a briefing in his office.

Signing bilateral investment protection deals could take longer, even if everyone is working very diligently on it, but he would personally invest time on this, said Hoekstra, who is also the minister of foreign affairs.

“I have been a minister of finance for four years and, therefore, I know from experience that any type of treaty, even among the closest of friends, sometimes does take quite a while to get to change and to improve. What I would very much hope, and what I would personally really want to invest in and the same is true for the whole cabinet here, is to make sure that we create these types of arrangements with India," the minister said.

India had in 2015 terminated bilateral investment treaties with 73 countries after a series of disputes went into arbitration under these treaties, including some under the treaty with the Netherlands, a major source of foreign direct investment for India. However, very few treaties were signed based on the new model text that India brought out in 2015. These are with Brazil, the Kyrgyz Republic, Belarus, and Taipei, according to information with the finance ministry.

Bilateral investment protection deals give foreign investors confidence in making investment decisions.

The Netherlands backed the FTA India is negotiating with the EU, Hoekstra said. “An EU FTA is something we would clearly support. We are very impressed by the capabilities India has in terms of trade," he said.

“Our business relationship is of tremendous importance, but a broader EU-India FTA would also provide more opportunities for India towards the whole European continent. If there’s anything that I could do, that the Dutch government could do, in facilitating that, we would, of course, be delighted to do so. These is a truly win-win," said the minister.

An email sent to the finance ministry seeking comments on Wednesday remained unanswered at the time of publishing.

(The writer is in the Netherlands on the invitation of the Netherlands government)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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