Vodafone controversy pushes back Canada-India investment deal

Sun Nov 4, 2012 12:12pm EST

* India re-examining all investment deals due to Vodafone spat

* Harper visit unlikely to produce investment, uranium deals

* Canadian diplomat sees agreements perhaps in the next year

By Randall Palmer

AGRA, India, Nov 4 (Reuters) - A high-profile tax dispute between the Indian government and British telecoms operator Vodafone Group has made it unlikely that India will sign a foreign investment protection treaty with Canada during a visit this week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada's top diplomat in India said on Sunday.

Canadian High Commissioner Stewart Beck also signaled an important disagreement with India in negotiations aimed at opening up Canadian exports of uranium to India.

There had been media speculation in both countries that Harper's Nov. 4-9 visit to India might yield a final agreement on foreign investment protection or on nuclear supplies or both, but this will now likely not happen this week.

"I imagine we'll have agreements, perhaps in the next year," Beck told reporters traveling with Harper.

The Indian government is putting on hold all its negotiations with other countries on foreign investment protection agreements after Vodafone threatened the Indian government with arbitration proceedings under one that already exists between the Netherlands and India.

"They are taking a look at all their agreements before they finalize any one in particular," Beck said.

The $2.2 billion Vodafone dispute concerns an Indian attempt to change tax laws in a way which would impact Vodafone retroactively.

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