India-Canada FTA: 4th round of negotiations from September

  • A trade expert said a proposed investment protection agreement was a contentious issue the last time both countries sat across the negotiating table

Ravi Dutta Mishra
Updated30 Aug 2022
India is looking for duty-free access for its apparel.  Mint
India is looking for duty-free access for its apparel. ; Mint

Free Trade Agreement talks with India’s eleventh largest export market Canada have gathered pace with the two sides set to begin the fourth round next month. New Delhi and Ottawa relaunched trade negotiations in March after a gap of nearly 10 years.

While India is looking for duty-free access for its textile and apparel products along with easier norms for the movement of Indian professionals, Canada could look for larger market access for its wine, dairy and agricultural products. “I think both the countries realize that there is a great trading potential. Canada has been a very close trading partner and that’s the reason the trade negotiations restarted after a lull. We will begin the fourth round next month,” a commerce ministry official said.

A trade expert said a proposed investment protection agreement was a contentious issue the last time both countries sat across the negotiating table. On the other hand, India would seek the easing of technical and sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade, the expert added.

“We would like to see the negotiations on textile and apparel in the initial rounds. Duty-free access for our apparel exports to Canada can boost exports by 10 to 20%. Canada is a relatively smaller market compared to the UK and the EU but it will create more labour-intensive jobs in the country,” Narendra Kumar Goenka, chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) said.

“Canada has an interest in agriculture…they have a very diverse and rich agricultural basket. Lot of pulses come from Canada. It is also strong in minerals and these are the sectors they would like to be opened up. Also dairy is important to Canada and they could be less sensitive to the dairy trade than the UK,” said Arpita Mukherjee, a professor at ICRIER, an economic policy think tank.

“Besides, Canada has not banned Indian dairy like a few western countries. Although there is a high tariff, negotiations on that are expected. There will also be a huge interest in education and services.”

Canada’s minister of international trade Mary Ng earlier expressed her appreciation for the spirit of cooperation and compromise that has been a hallmark of the negotiations and reaffirmed Canada’s goal of maintaining momentum in the fourth round of negotiations, which are scheduled to take place in September, as per a statement released by Global Affairs Canada.

Queries sent to the commerce and industry ministry remained unanswered till press time.

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