‘Free trade pact to boost India-Canada trade’

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Thursday, November 18, 2010

TORONTO - Welcoming the talks between India and Canada to clinch a free trade agreement, major Indo-Canadian bodies Wednesday said the pact will boost bilateral trade.

Vinay Nagpal, president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), said the Indian diaspora in Canada is hoping that “the negotiations will be completed successfully in the near future.”

The Indian diaspora is “delighted that the Prime Ministers of Canada and India have agreed to initiate talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries that will include negotiations on Free Trade and Investment,” the ICCC said in a statement.

A free trade agreement would not only boost trade and investment ties between Canada and India but also people-to-people contacts, said the ICCC which has been lobbying with the Canadian government for some time for the proposed comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India.

Just two months ago, Canadian trade minister Peter Van Loan had told the ICCC that India is now “a key priority in Canada’s foreign and trade policy agenda.”

Canada India Foundation (CIF), another public policy organization, also welcomed the talks, calling them “a significant first step toward closer economic integration of the Canadian and Indian economies” at the earliest.

“The start of the free trade negotiations is the natural consequence of the prominent places the two countries hold in the global economy of the 21st century,” said foundation chairman Ramesh Chotai. He said the proposed agreement would boost trade volumes as the two economies complement each other.

“We expect that the key sectors of mutual importance such as mining, energy, infrastructure, power, agriculture, textiles and financial services should benefit from the conclusion of the free trade agreement. “Canada India Foundation urges both countries to implement appropriate changes to eliminate tariffs, quotas and subsidies within these strategically important sectors, which will support greater bilateral flow of goods and services,” said Chotai.

The foundation also has been lobbying for the agreement since its inception four years ago.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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