New Delhi, May 10
Ahead of the G-20 Trade and Investment Ministerial meeting in India scheduled for August 2023, India and Canada, on Wednesday reaffirmed the momentum achieved in the seven rounds of negotiations for the India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations, which as a transitional step in the form of an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), will cover high level commitments in goods, services, investment, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, among others.
Canadian Minister of International Trade and Export Promotion Mary Ng will lead a Canadian trade mission to India in October 2023 and is likely to bring a big business delegation to tap the opportunity to further trade and investment ties between the two countries. The CEPA is seen as a catalyst for larger trade and investment flows between India and Canada which is being discussed extensively at the sixth India-Canada Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment (MDTI). India and Canada bilateral trade in goods reaching reached USD 8.2 billion in 2022, an almost 25 per cent growth over the exchanges in 2021. The two countries also support a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization and the need to work together further strengthen it.
In an important step towards stronger economic relations, Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and Mary Ng, Canadian Minister of International Trade and Export Promotion, have signalled their intent on government-to-government coordination to promote critical mineral supply chain resiliency, at a time when global supply chains remain under the threat of disruption from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Recognising the importance of critical minerals for the future economy and green economy, the Ministers will encourage business to business engagement on critical minerals between the two countries and have committed to an annual dialogue between the appropriate points of contact at the officials level on the margins of the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference in Toronto to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Among other areas being identified by Goyal and his Canadian counterpart for enhanced cooperation is the services sector which, as the Ministers noted, has contributed in furthering the bilateral relationship and has potential for increasing the services trade which stood at about USD 6.6 billion in 2022. With a significant movement of professionals and skilled workers, students and business travellers between the two countries, Goyal and Mary Ng may step up talks in the area of migration and mobility. The two Ministers are also looking at appropriate mechanisms to discuss talent and innovation partnership to strengthen the bilateral innovation ecosystem amidst discussion on building on the ongoing work in the joint science and technology cooperation committee (JSTCC) and seeking enhanced collaboration in the areas of start-ups and innovation partnerships.
India and Canada are also keen on partnerships to tap their shared complementarities and expand cooperation in agricultural goods, clean technologies for infrastructure development, clean energy, electronics, electric vehicles and batteries, renewable energy/hydrogen. The respective officials on both sides have been directed to discuss trade remedies and issues of bilateral importance on a regular basis.
The Ministers noted the significant movement of professionals and skilled workers, students, and business travellers between the two countries, and its immense contribution to enhancing the bilateral economic partnership and, in this context, noted the desire for enhanced discussions in the area of migration and mobility. Both sides agreed to continue to discuss ways to deepen and strengthen the bilateral innovation ecosystem through an appropriate mechanism to be determined. In addition, in accordance with Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, further investments will be made to support industrial research and development partnerships.
To sustain the progress under mechanisms established under the MDTI, both sides will come up with an annual work plan which would be reviewed and reported on a regular basis and respective officials on both sides have been tasked to discuss trade remedy issues of bilateral importance on a regular basis. An invigorated Canada-India CEO Forum is on the agenda, with renewed focus and a new set of priorities to boost B2B engagement.