India, Canada agree to relaunch FTA negotiations

New Delhi, March 11 : Marking an upswing in ties, India and Canada on Friday agreed to re-launch negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement to unlock the full potential of their bilateral trade. This was decided during talks between Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and visiting Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng here. The two sides also agreed to consider an Interim Agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) to boost trade in goods and services. They also agreed to discuss ways to integrate the economies across sectors. Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal and Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Government of Canada, co-chaired the Fifth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment today. The two sides agreed to formally re-launch negotiations for the India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and also consider an Interim Agreement that could bring early commercial gains to both the countries, said an official statement. The Ministers highlighted the existing trade complementarities between India and Canada and emphasised that the trade agreement would help in expanding bilateral trade in goods and services through unlocking the potential across sectors. The Interim Agreement would include high level commitments in goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, and may also cover any other areas mutually agreed upon. A range of other bilateral trade and investment issues were discussed during the meeting. Both countries 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 etc. Canada also agreed to examine expeditiously the request for Conformity Verification Body (CVB) status to APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) for facilitating Indian organic export products. The Ministers acknowledged the significance of establishing resilient supply chains in critical sectors and exchanged views on collaboration in this area. They emphasised enhancing cooperation in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and critical and rare earth minerals as well as in areas like tourism, urban infrastructure, renewable energy and mining. They 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. The Ministers agreed to work closely to provide sustained momentum to building linkages and strengthen cooperation across sectors to harness full potential of the trade and investment relationship between India and Canada, the statement said. RN

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