Hindustan Times - 10 April 2023
India-Canada conclude 7th round of talks on Early Progress Trade Agreement
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya
India and Canadian officials said there was “some progress” during the four-day discussions in Ottawa last week, as the two teams lead by their chief negotiators met in the Canadian capital.
The meetings took place between Monday and Thursday last week. Some differences persist, officials said, but are not insurmountable.
The EPTA process commenced 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 & Investment with Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on March 11 last year. The EPTA, if concluded, will be a transitional step towards the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA.
Both countries originally hoped to finalise the agreement within a year but that deadline has elapsed and they are targeting potential finalisation of the document this autumn.
Both nations have focused on strengthening trade ties recently. After Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Mélanie Joly met external affairs minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi this March, the latter tweeted the talks encompassed bilateral issues including, among other matters, “trade, connectivity and people to people ties.”
Joly told attendees at the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber or ICBC meet in New Delhi in March the “economic potential contained in strengthening the Canada-India relationship can’t be understated.”
While negotiations will continue, overcoming key hurdles will depend on political will, and critical decisions could be made when Ng meets Goyal on the margins of the G20 Trade Ministers vertical in Jaipur in August.
According to Global Affairs Canada, in 2022, India was Canada’s 10th-largest merchandise trade partner, and “the relationship has been steadily growing”. Two-way foreign direct investment between Canada and India amounted to CA$ 4.6 billion in 2021, with Canadian direct investment in India standing at CA$ 2.9 billion. In addition, Canadian portfolio and institutional investment into India reached CA$ 70 billion.