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Canada calls for India free-trade agreement if WTO talks fail

Bloomberg | 12 March 2007

Canada Calls for India Free-Trade Agreement If WTO Talks Fail

By Theophilos Argitis

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Canada wants India to consider a free-trade agreement between the two countries if global trade talks continue to falter, a Canadian lawmaker said.

The so-called Doha round of talks among the World Trade Organization’s 150 member governments, which are aimed at lowering tariffs worldwide, have stalled because of disputes over farm subsidies. Canada has said it will seek out bilateral or regional agreements in Asia if those discussions fail.

``Depending on the outcome of the Doha round, we will assess next steps for meaningful trade liberalization between our two countries,’’ Ted Menzies, a legislator for Canada’s governing Conservative Party, said in a speech today in New Delhi. ``A high-quality free-trade agreement should be our longer objective,’’ he said, according to a copy of the speech.

Trade negotiators from WTO countries want to complete at least an outline of an accord before U.S. President George W. Bush’s negotiating authority from Congress expires at the end of June. Without that congressional mandate, other governments can’t be sure that American lawmakers won’t alter any deal reached with the Bush administration.

Menzies, who is leading a trade delegation to India this week, made the speech today on behalf of Trade Minister David Emerson, who fell ill before the trip. Canada is eager to conclude a foreign-investor protection agreement with India by the end of the year, Menzies also said.

Trade between the two countries totaled C$3.6 billion ($3.1 billion) last year, according to Menzies. India is Canada’s 14th-largest export market, while Canada is India’s 24th-largest, he said.

 source: Bloomberg