India and Canada are looking forward to a final round of negotiation for a free trade agreement (FTA), after a gap of more than two years, ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to India in February, to seal the bilateral investment agreement between both the countries.
Trade ministers from both the countries had a meeting in New Delhi last week. They are now looking for another round of discussions at the expert level before Trudeau's visit to India, Mint reported.
The negotiations for the agreement, which is officially dubbed as Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), were launched by both the countries in November 2010, in an attempt to further boost bilateral trade and investment.
The proposed agreement seeks to open services sector and facilitate investment proposals. The 10th round of the India-Canada CEPA talks was held in August 2017 after the ninth round in March 2015.
The negotiations held in August mainly focused on various issues including cross-border trade in goods and services, e-commerce, telecommunications, sanitary measures and technical barriers to the trade.
The previous round, on the other hand, focused on core areas of goods and services, services and temporary entry. Canadian and Indian officials have also agreed to continue their engagement over the coming months to advance the CEPA negotiations.
This proposed free trade agreement between India and Canada aims to reduce or eliminate duties on a large number of products traded between the two nations.
Earlier this year, reports suggested that Federal Liberal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi in his trip to India said a free-trade agreement between India and Canada is "high priority of the Canadian government."
"Two-way trade between the two countries grew by nearly 30 percent between 2015 and 2016, a remarkable achievement in the context of ongoing economic uncertainty all over the world," said Sohi.
Canadian funds have invested close to C$15 billion in India in recent years and we see a lot of potential of that investment growing, said Sohi.
However, reports suggest that the size of bilateral trade between India and Canada is relatively small, at about one-tenth the size of Canada's annual trade flow with China.
According to reports, Indian goods exports to Canada are less than 1 percent of its total outbound shipments, a joint study before the FTA talks started in 2010 had estimated fairly symmetric gains for both the nations.
Annual export gains for Canada were estimated to range between 39 percent and 47 percent, and for India, between 32 percent and 60 percent.
India's goods exports to Canada stood at $2 billion last fiscal, marginally lower than a year before, while its imports from that country were to the tune of $4.13 billion.