India, Canada seek to soon finalise free trade pact

New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) India and Canada will make expeditious efforts to finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or free trade agreement, on goods and services at the annual ministerial dialogue starting here on Monday, according an official statement.

A Canadian delegation led by its International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is visiting India to attend the 4th Annual Ministerial Sialogue, while the Indian delegation will be led by Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, a Commerce Ministry statement said here.

“Efforts would be made to work towards expeditious conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) for a progressive, balanced and mutually beneficial agreement covering both goods and services,” it said.

Negotiations for the agreement were launched in November 2010.

The bilateral merchandise trade in 2016-17 was worth $6.13 billion.

The trade ministers are likely to discuss issues to explore ways of expediting an early conclusion of the CEPA and the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, the release said.

“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 added.

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.

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