India and Canada today formally launched negotiations for a comprehensive market opening pact to boost bilateral trade. "Today, we are here to announce after the understanding reached between both the Prime Ministers (of India and Canada) a formal launch of Comprehensive Economic and Cooperation Agreement (CECA)," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters. Sharma said that as per a joint study group report, both countries will benefit from the CECA and the gains for Indian and Canada would be of the order of 39 to 62 per cent. The minister said India's GDP is likely to benefit by about USD 10 billion from the proposed free trade pact.
"The gains which are projected in the report were between USD 6 billion to USD 12 billion for the Indian GDP and for Canada, between USD 6 billion and USD 15 billion, so that's why I feel that it would be averaged at USD 10 billion, that is, when the CECA is concluded," Sharma said. "We hope that at least USD 10 billion should be the gain to begin with," he added. The Prime Ministers of both countries met in Seoul on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit and decided to formally launch negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement to take ties to a new level.
Canada's International Trade Minister, Peter Van Laon, said bilateral trade between India and Canada will increase to USD 15 billion in the next five years. Laon also said a business forum would be set up to maximise growth opportunities for businessmen of both countries. "Free trade with India is an important part of our government's broad free trade agenda of opening markets for Canadian businesses and creating new jobs for Canadian workers," Laon said.
Sharma said there are huge opportunities for Indian businesses in Canada in sectors like energy, IT, education and mining. Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled USD 4.2 billion last year, with Canada primarily exporting vegetables, fertilisers, machinery and wood pulp, while its main imports from India were organic chemicals, knit and woven apparel, precious stones and metals, electronics and machinery.
India has already operationalised a similar trade pact with South Korea and Singapore and recently concluded a comprehensive free trade agreement with Japan.