Vienna, 8 November 2013 – The negotiations about a bilateral agreement on the protection and promotion of investment between Austria and Turkmenistan that had been going on for two years were brought to a successful conclusion at the Austrian Foreign Ministry yesterday. The concluding negotiations at the Foreign Ministry were held in parallel to the meeting of the Mixed Austrian-Turkmen Commission on 6 and 7 November.
"The new investment protection agreement is to make it easier for Austrian companies to gain a foothold on this market of the future, because it provides them with the legal certainty they need. It is particularly important for small and medium-sized companies that venture a step abroad that their commitment abroad is protected from disadvantages compared to national and other foreign investors", Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said.
Turkmenistan is located at the Caspian Sea and has a population of five million people; the country has the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world and plays a central role in international energy supply. Austrian suppliers of products, technologies and services can expect interesting business opportunities in this still relatively unknown growth market: there are several infrastructure development projects in the pipeline, and the demand for imported consumer goods is increasing steeply thanks to the swift economic upswing of the country.
The main business opportunities for Austrian companies are related to petrol and natural gas, the construction industry and infrastructure, healthcare and medication as also supplies to the food industry and agriculture. Austrian companies are increasingly represented on the Turkmen market and are interested in expanding their business relations to the country.
"Opening up new markets that offer export opportunities for Austrian companies means securing jobs and thus prosperity in Austria. This is particularly essential in phases when exports to neighbouring countries are stagnating", Spindelegger continued.
The negotiations in the Foreign Ministry were held on the basis of an Austrian model text that was developed in a broad-based participatory process with the involvement of the social partners and academic experts. In European and international comparison the text is considered as a state-of-the-art role model.
The Foreign Minister stressed that the agreement covers requests made by representatives of the Austrian economy and also states that foreign investment of companies must comply with international human rights, labour and environmental standards in a responsible manner as also with the international anti-corruption standards.
Bilateral investment protection agreements protect Austrian investors abroad from disadvantages compared to local and other foreign investors and from dispossession without compensation. This is of great importance above all for small and medium-sized Austrian companies that venture a step abroad. These agreements also include the option of calling at an international court of arbitration in addition to national courts in the event of disputes.
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