India and Canada will make efforts for expeditious conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement on goods and services at the annual ministerial dialogue starting here tomorrow, said an official statement. A high-level delegation led by the Canadian International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is visiting India to attend the 4th Annual Ministerial Dialogue (AMD). The Indian delegation will be led by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu. In the current round, India and Canada will be focusing on some of the key commercial drivers to enhance bilateral partnership, the release said. “Efforts would be made to work towards the expeditious conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) for a progressive, balanced, and mutually beneficial agreement covering both goods and services,” it stated. India-Canada merchandise trade stood at USD 6.13 billion in 2016-17, down 1.87 per cent from the previous year. The negotiations for the agreement were launched in November 2010 to boost bilateral trade and investments.
According to the release, considering the high potential for bilateral trade, the trade ministers of both countries are likely to discuss issues to explore ways of expediting the early conclusion of the CEPA and the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. “They would also explore options for Indian interests in addressing the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme of Canada, which is affecting the movement of Indian professionals seeking short-term visas, address equivalence by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for Indian organic product exports and exploring two-way investment opportunities,” it said. Though geographically separated by a long distance, the historical ties between the two countries date back to the late 19th century when Indians began migrating in small numbers to British Columbia in Canada.
Canada now has over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), comprising more than 3 per cent of its population. “Though India’s commercial ties with the US have seen an upswing in the last few years, trade and investment relations between India and Canada are yet to realise their full potential,” the release said. Given enormous complementarities, a concerted effort to boost bilateral trade and investment from both sides would provide a fruitful outcome, it added.