Ministers Announce Findings of Study on Trade Agreement Between Canada and India

International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan says trade would benefit Canada and India

(No. 313 - September 24, 2010 - 2:50 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today announced public release of the results of a joint study on the benefits of free trade between Canada and India. The Minister made the announcement in Ottawa together with India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, following the First Annual Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment.

“Minister Sharma and I welcomed and endorsed the Joint Study Group recommendation that negotiations should be initiated toward a substantive and ambitious trade agreement that would be to our countries’ mutual benefit,” said Minister Van Loan. “The agreement would help us meet our mutual goal of increasing bilateral trade to $15 billion annually within the next five years.”

The study shows that freer trade in goods and services between Canada and India could also increase Canada’s gross domestic product by at least US$6 billion, boost bilateral trade with India by 50 percent, and directly benefit Canadian sectors like forestry, energy and manufacturing.

“Canada’s trade and investment partnership with India is on an exciting path, and an economic partnership agreement will further broaden and deepen that partnership,” said Minister Van Loan. “Our government has made India a key priority in Canada’s foreign and trade policy agenda.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India announced the establishment of the Ministerial Dialogue during Prime Minister Singh’s recent visit to Canada. That visit and last year’s visit to India by Prime Minister Harper have underlined both countries’ dedication to their bilateral relationship.

During their meeting, Ministers Van Loan and Sharma reviewed the progress of negotiations on a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, which will stimulate increased investment flows between the two countries.

The ministers place a high value on the input of Canadian and Indian businesses, and look forward to the prompt establishment of an India-Canada Chief Executive Officer (CEO) forum. The forum was one of the initiatives discussed during Prime Minister Harper’s visit to India in November 2009.

The CEO forum will be made up of leading Canadian and Indian business representatives, who will provide advice on improving investment and trade between Canada and India. The CEO forum will regularize the India-Canada CEO round tables that have been taking place on the margins of ministerial visits. Later today, the ministers will participate in the third such round table, with key CEOs and business leaders, including Pierre Duhaime, President and CEO of SNC-Lavalin Group; Richard Legault, President and CEO of Brookfield Renewable Power; Hari Bhartia, President of the Confederation of Indian Industry, and Co-Chairman and Managing Director of Jubilant Organosys Ltd.; and Deep Kapuria, Chairman of Hi-Tech Gears Ltd.

“The Government of Canada is creating an environment that allows Canadian technological innovations and commercial expertise to reach more markets,” said Minister Van Loan. “Our government is committed to opening global markets, including India, for Canadian companies through an aggressive free trade agenda that includes promoting investment and fighting protectionism.”

Ministers Van Loan and Sharma issued a joint statement on progress made during this visit.

For more information, please see Canada-India Joint Study Group Report.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information and high-resolution photos, media representatives may contact:

Monika Bujalska
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Backgrounder - Canada and India: Toward a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

India is projected to be the world’s third-largest economy by 2050 and is a priority market for Canada. Its growing population, rising per-capita income levels, rapidly expanding manufacturing, high-technology and services sectors, and the associated infrastructure and natural resources requirements make India a market of tremendous opportunity for Canadian companies.

With a view to enhancing bilateral engagement, Canada and India agreed to initiate exploratory discussions toward a comprehensive economic partnership agreement during a visit to India by Canada’s Minister of International Trade in January 2009. In November 2009, a joint study group comprised of Canadian and Indian officials was established and tasked with examining the feasibility of such an agreement. Following the publication of a notice in the Canada Gazette on March 8, 2009, the Government of Canada held initial public consultations to obtain the advice and views of Canadians regarding this initiative.

The Joint Study Group’s report outlines possible parameters for the negotiation of an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement between Canada and India, and describe the potentially substantial gains to be made from eliminating trade barriers between the two countries.

The joint study looked at the following areas:

  • rules of origin
  • customs (origin) procedures
  • trade facilitation
  • technical barriers to trade
  • sanitary and phytosanitary issues
  • emergency action
  • trade remedies
  • trade in services
  • financial services
  • telecommunication services
  • temporary entry for natural persons
  • investment
  • intellectual property
  • electronic commerce
  • competition policy and monopolies and state enterprises
  • government procurement
  • trade and labour
  • trade and environment
  • institutional provisions

The report concluded that there is sufficient common ground to move ahead with next steps toward the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement covering trade in goods and services, investment, trade facilitation, and other areas of economic cooperation, as a single undertaking.

A high-quality agreement that eliminates tariffs on substantially all goods, opens up opportunities in services, establishes rules in investment and reduces non-tariff barriers could give Canadian exporters considerable preferential access to the large and growing Indian market, potentially ahead of other key competitors.

For more information, please see Canada-India Joint Study Group Report.