January 21, 2009 (9:15 a.m. EST)
No. 16

Canada and India Agree to Initiate Exploratory Talks on an Economic Partnership Agreement

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Canada's Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and Kamal Nath, India's Minister of Commerce and Industry, today announced that Canada and India have agreed to initiate exploratory discussions toward a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

"We are committed to taking our economic partnership to the next level," said Minister Nath. "The steps taken today will ensure we move toward opening doors for our respective business communities."

"Minister Nath and I agreed that officials should now meet to begin talks on the possible parameters of a comprehensive trade agreement," said Minister Day. "Our discussions here respond to the recommendations made by the Canada-India CEO Roundtable."

At a bilateral meeting held this week, while acknowledging the substantial growth in bilateral trade, the ministers stressed the need to further tap the huge trade and investment potential that exists between the two countries, especially in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture and related activities, and industrial goods.

Both ministers acknowledged the progress made on the Canada-India Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and emphasized the need for an early implementation of the Agreement. Minister Nath also stressed the need for a particular focus on facilitating greater engagement between small and medium enterprises of the two countries.

In 2007, two-way merchandise trade increased four percent to an all-time high of $3.74 billion.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000