India and Canada likely to sign interim free trade deal this year | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India and Canada likely to sign interim free trade deal this year

By, Rajeev Jayaswal, Toronto/ New Delhi
May 11, 2023 01:21 AM IST

According to the officials, the interim negotiation with Canada is “progressing fast” and the two countries may sign a deal in the second half of this year.

India and Canada may sign an interim free trade deal by this year, the precursor to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), officials said after commerce minister Piyush Goyal and his Canadian counterpart Mary Ng reviewed the progress of ongoing negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries a day before the CEOs roundtable, held in Toronto on Tuesday.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal meets Canadian Minister for International Trade Mary Ng, in Ottawa. (Piyush Goyal Twitter)
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal meets Canadian Minister for International Trade Mary Ng, in Ottawa. (Piyush Goyal Twitter)

Also read: India nudges Russia to address trade imbalance due to discounted oil

India and Canada are negotiating a two-step FTA – first an interim deal covering goods, services, rules of origin, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement by this year; followed by the India-Canada CEPA to cover other bilateral issues of strategic importance, the officials added, requesting anonymity.

According to the officials, the interim negotiation with Canada – also called the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) -- is “progressing fast” and the two countries may sign a deal in the second half of this year. EPTA may also cover areas such as small and medium enterprises and it will eventually take shape of a comprehensive FTA, they added. The seventh round of negotiations for EPTA was held in Ottawa last month.

In a tweet after the CEOs roundtable, Goyal said India and Canada are “Partners in Growth!” “Addressed the CEOs Roundtable in Toronto & invited Captains of Industry to invest in India’s resilient growth story,” he added.

Ng, who is Canada’s international trade minister, tweeted: “Today, @PiyushGoyal and I hosted a roundtable with Canadian and Indian businesses to hear first-hand how we can make it easier for these companies to work together and to help them succeed.”

“The success of the Canada- India relationship is rooted within the close collaboration and hard work of Indian and Canadian businesses,” she added. The roundtable was jointly organised by the Business Council of Canada (BCC) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

On May 8, the at the sixth India- Canada Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment (MDTI) in Ottawa, the two ministers recognised the opportunity to deepen bilateral ties and economic partnership. MDTI is an effective forum as the India-Canada FTA negotiations gained pace during its fifth meeting held in New Delhi in March last year.

During the sixth MDTI in Ottawa, the Canadian minister expressed her support for India as G20 Chair and the priorities pursued by India in the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group, a commerce ministry statement said on Wednesday. Ng is expected to participate in the upcoming G-20 Trade and Investment Ministerial in August 2023.

“India-Canada bilateral trade in goods reached about US$8.20 billion in 2022, registering about 25% growth compared to 2021. The ministers also underlined the contribution of the services sector in furthering the bilateral relationship and noted the significant potential for increasing bilateral services trade which stood at about US $6.60 billion in 2022,” the ministry’s statement added.

Goyal and Ng emphasised enhancing cooperation in sectors such as clean technologies for infrastructure development, critical minerals, electric vehicles and batteries, renewable energy, hydrogen, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Also read: ‘India to be among world’s three defining countries’: British high commissioner

FICCI president Subhrakant Panda expressed confidence in stronger business-to-business ties between the two countries that would lift the trajectory of bilateral trade. BCC president and CEO Goldy Hyder said he was cautiously optimistic about EPTA. “I would be extremely surprised if an agreement was not signed in 2023.” Hyder added that Goyal’s visit is indicative of a will and a desire to get this done.

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