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Hindustan Times - 12 May 2022
India, Canada look to expedite FTA negotiations
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya
India and Canada held the fifth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment (MDTI) on Wednesday and formally agreed to expedite talks to consider a free trade agreement between the two countries to boost trade in goods and services along with an early harvest deal, a commerce ministry spokesperson said.
Union commerce and industries minister Goyal and his Canadian counterpart Mary Ng had earlier agreed to formally relaunch negotiations for the India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and also to consider an interim agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) that expedites mutual commercial gains, he said. The discussions over the matter took place during Ng’s visit to India in March.
“The Interim Agreement would include high level commitments in goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, and may also cover any other areas mutually agreed upon,” said the spokesperson.
A readout of the conversation, released by Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, said Ng “expressed her appreciation for India’s openness to explore diverse trade issues and advance the long-standing economic and investment relationship between Canada and India — a priority as Canada deepens key partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.”
The statement added that as “Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine threatens the rules based international order, it is more important than ever for democracies to strengthen ties.”
Ng also emphasized the importance of advancing discussions on an investment protection agreement between Canada and India, which would improve predictability and transparency for Canadian investors in India.
Both countries also agreed to undertake intensified work with respect to the recognition of Canada’s systems approach to pest risk management in pulses and market access for Indian agriculture goods such as sweet corn, baby corn and banana, said the commerce ministry spokesperson cited above.
Canada also agreed to examine expeditiously the request of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for facilitating Indian organic export products, he said.
The two countries acknowledge the significance of establishing resilient supply chains in critical sectors, he said. The two partners can enhance cooperation in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and critical and rare earth minerals as well as in tourism, urban infrastructure, renewable energy and mining, among other fields.
India and Canada also noted the role of strong people-to-people ties between the two countries, including movement of professionals and skilled workers, students, and business travellers, in strengthening the bilateral economic partnership, he said.
Minister Goyal later tweeted: “Discussions were held on ways to further strengthen bilateral trade ties, explore new opportunities & attract greater investments as both sides work towards a mutually beneficial trade pact.”
During the meeting, minister Ng said advancing the long-standing economic and investment relationship with India is a priority for Canada, as it “deepens key partnerships in the Indo-Pacific”.