India-Canada Talks On Early Progress Trade Agreement Speed U...| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 07 October 2022 03:14 GMT

India-Canada Talks On Early Progress Trade Agreement Speed Up


(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)

The 14-member team from India, lead by Rachna Shah, additional secretary in the commerce ministry, is interfacing with counterparts from Global Affairs Canada, the country's foreign ministry, lead by Jay Allen, director-general – trade negotiations.

Negotiations between India and Canada to secure an Early Progress Trade Agreement, or EPTA, have accelerated with a delegation from New Delhi in Ottawa for discussions through this week, according to people aware of the matter.

The 14-member team from India, lead by Rachna Shah, additional secretary in the commerce ministry, is interfacing with counterparts from Global Affairs Canada, the country's foreign ministry, lead by Jay Allen, director-general – trade negotiations.

A senior Indian official associated with the discussions told Hindustan Times that there is optimism over securing a“workable text” for the agreement by October this year. Pointing to the momentum, the official underlined the fact this is already the third round of discussions on EPTA.

India has been discussing key trade agreements with several countries and blocs, including the UK and EU, with the focus on digital trade, data protection, and sustainable development. New Delhi has already forged pacts with the United Arab Emirates and Australia with an aim to boost bilateral trade and investment.

India and Canada decided to consider the interim agreement when Canadian minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development, Marg Ng, visited New Delhi in March and held a ministerial dialogue on trade and investment with commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on March 11. EPTA, if concluded, will be a transitional step towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA.

The governments have decided on the“two-tier” approach and “bank the low-hanging fruit” of the areas of close convergence under EPTA before progressing to the more complex CEPA.

According to the Canadian government data for 2020, the country's imports from India were pegged at CA$ 4.97 billion while its exports stood at CA$ 3.71 billion. Major trade between the two sides covered exports of metal ores, non-metallic products and energy products from Canada, and imports of textiles and consumer goods from India. The country's stated trade goal is to cross the CA$ 10-billion mark.

The Indian delegation arrived in Ottawa on Sunday, negotiations commenced on Monday, and discussions on EPTA are scheduled to continue till the end of the week, the people cited in the first instance said.

There is also broader support for the deal, including from Canada's finance ministry — headed by deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland — which wants the country to be far more economically engaged in the Indo-Pacific.

Unlike the previous series of negotiations over CEPA, 11 rounds in all, which finally didn't bear fruit, this time around, the Indian official cited above said, both sides have“established a greater degree of understanding of sensitivities” of the other.

EPTA is being looked upon as the“first deliverable” towards strengthening the economic and trade relationship between the two countries, the official added.

Corporate groups in Canada have also sought progress on the matter in recent days.

Last week, a report from the Business Council of Canada and the Canada-India Business Council noted,“India represents a vital door to the future in global trade.” The two major groups called for an India-specific strategy and said that“will be an important first step in enhancing the relationship, but Canada should not stop there. A comprehensive trade and investment agreement that reduces tariffs and other barriers, increases labour mobility and improves investor confidence would generate significant economic gains for both countries.”

“Global markets are experiencing volatality on many fronts. It is a wonderful opportunity for India and Canada to diversify and actively seek out more trading opportunities together,” said Victor Thomas, president and CEO of Canada-India Business Council.

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