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Canada committed to Free Trade Agreement with India

May 17
23:21 2013

Canadian Trade Minister Fast speaks during a Reuters interview at the Canadian consulate in central SydneyTORONTO: Canada has said the negotiations for an ambitious Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India are progressing “very well” despite delay in early conclusion of bilateral foreign investment promotion and protection agreement.

“The talks will see a meaningful closure with both sides having an agreement which is both ambitious as well as balanced”, Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast said yesterday.

He was addressing a meeting organized by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and the Brampton Board of Trade.

To date, the Canada-India trade negotiations have undergone seven official rounds.

A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) would benefit Canadian workers and SMEs by eliminating or reducing tariffs on goods, cutting red tape and facilitating trade in services.

Canada has identified core economic opportunities in India in the energy, agriculture, infrastructure and education sectors, the Minister said.

“With SMEs accounting for more than 99 percent of companies in Canada, our government understands the crucial role that these businesses play in generating jobs, growth and prosperity in every region of our country,” Fast said.

“That’s why we continue to work hard to open new markets for our exporters in the largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing economies in the world, including India,” he added.

“Further fuelling Canada’s growing trade with India are our strong people-to-people ties,” Bal Gosal, Minister of Sports, said.

“Nearly one million Canadians of Indian descent enrich our communities in cities and towns across Canada, and our government is committed to utilizing these strong links to build a partnership that will lead to new opportunities and new sources of prosperity in both countries,” he added.

In less than six years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In addition to India, Canada is engaged in negotiations with large, dynamic and fast-growing markets such as the European Union, Japan and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnerships. . Speaking on the occasion, Naval Bajaj, President ICCC, said, “ICCC greatly appreciate all your efforts for early conclusion of both the comprehensive economic partnership agreement and foreign investment promotion and protection agreement.

“We believe that in the years to come, we need to develop multi-level engagement with India for unlocking the full potential of Canada-India partnership,” Bajaj said.

Bajaj suggested that going forward, Canada and India need to engage their epistemic communities – networks of researchers, traders, businesses, alumni associations, friends, among others to generate support for building economic partnerships that are robust, vibrant and synergistic.

“This will also help in the drawing up the right India strategy for Canada, which recognizes that the economic and commercial relationship is a two-way street and which begets optimal and mutual benefits to the two countries,” he added.

Satish Thakkar, Immediate Past President, ICCC; Steve Sheils, the Chief Executive Officer of Brampton Board of Trade; and Badar Shammin, Member of Brampton Board of Trade’s International Trade Committee were among those who addressed the meeting attended by local businesses. –PTI

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