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India and Canada have agreed to formally re-launch the negotiations for a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), an official release said on Friday (11 March).

The two sides also agreed to consider an Interim Agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) that could bring early commercial gains to both countries.

India and Canada on Friday held the fifth ministerial dialogue on trade and investment. The meeting was co-chaired by Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goal and Canadian Minister for Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng.

According to a Commerce Ministry release, the ministers highlighted the existing trade complementarities between India and Canada and emphasised that the trade agreement would help in expanding bilateral trade in goods and services through unlocking the potential across sectors.

Meanwhile, the Interim Agreement would include high level commitments in goods, services, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, and may also cover any other areas mutually agreed upon.

A range of other bilateral trade and investment issues were discussed during the meeting, the release said.

Both countries agreed to undertake intensified work with respect to the recognition of Canada’s systems approach to pest risk management in pulses and market access for Indian agriculture goods such as sweet corn, baby corn and banana etc.

Canada also agreed to examine expeditiously the request for Conformity Verification Body (CVB) status to APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) for facilitating Indian organic export products, it added.

The ministers acknowledged the significance of establishing resilient supply chains in critical sectors and exchanged views on collaboration in this area.

They emphasised on enhancing cooperation in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and critical and rare earth minerals as well as in areas like tourism, urban infrastructure, renewable energy and mining.

The ministers also noted the role of strong people-to-people ties between the two countries, including movement of professionals and skilled workers, students, and business travellers, in strengthening the bilateral economic partnership.

The ministers agreed to work closely to provide sustained momentum to building linkages and strengthen cooperation across sectors to harness full potential of the trade and investment relationship between India and Canada, the release said.

It should be noted that the two sides had begun talks for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement in 2010, but it did not see much progress, although the negotiations went on till 2017.