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30-September-2016

The third India-Canada Annual Ministerial Dialogue was held on 29-09-2016 between the Commerce and Industry Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman and the Trade Minister of Canada Ms Chrystia Freeland at Toronto.

The discussion covered outstanding trade and investment related issues and among other things, focussed on expanding bilateral trade, having more B 2 B interface with constitution of CEO Forum by Canada and regular interaction between the CEOs on both sides and also expediting the free trade and investment negotiations which are underway.

This was the first high level meet led by a Ministerial level delegation from India after the new Government came to power in Canada. The Trade Minister of Canada emphasied the importance of the bilateral relationship and expressed happiness at the back to back visit by the Indian Commerce and Industry Minister and the proposed visit of the Finance Minister Mr Jaitely in the first week of October.

Both the sides expressed their strong commitment for taking forward the negotiations in CEPA and FIFA and expressed the desire for early conclusion keeping in view the mutual benefits to both countries and working towards a balanced outcome by taking into account sensitivities in certain sectors. Both the sides recognized the importnce of FIFA as tool for higher transperancy and stability of invetsments providing greater protection.

Both the Ministers heard each other’s perspective on CEPA and discussed some of the sectors where negotiations seem to have been struck. Responding to the Indian side which has shown enough flexibility in the Services modalities, the Canadian side is looking into the issues concerned with movement of natural persons and what kind of provisions could be built into the CEPA.

India also took up the issues of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Entry Programme which has acted as a barrier for the Indian IT companies invested in Canada to source Indian IT professionals as the norms for temporary entry have become more and more stringent. The Trade Minister of Canada assured that a Parliamentary Committee is examining these issues and some of these concerns are likely to be addressed.

Both sides appreciated the need for early institutonalization of the CEO Forum mechanism which would be instrumental in forming an organic link and suggest the issues concerning the trade to the Governments. Candian side assured moving fast in constituting the Canadian side list of CEO Forum and work out modalities faster. They could also meet prior to the proposed visit of Candian Prime Minister to India sometime in 2017 and form Groups for identified sub-sectors and come out with a set of recommendations. This would greately benefit the discussions during the PM level meeting.

India and Canada agreed to cooperate at the International Fora on Trade Faclitation Agreement on Services as well as the unfinished agenda items of Doha Round given the complimentarity of both the nations on these issues. The beginning made by both the Governments after assuming power in respective countries, through this Annual Ministerial Dialogue was emphasized by both the Ministers and they resolved to take forward the momentum with an of expanding bilateral trade between both the countries.

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