India is likely to propose an interim pact with Canada, which will be followed by a full-fledged trade deal

India and Canada are set to hold the 5th Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment (MDTI) from Thursday to further strengthen the bilateral ties and discuss economic partnerships, including a free trade agreement between both nations.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Commerce minister Piyush Goyal and his Canadian counterpart Mary Ng will meet in New Delhi to begin talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

The negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership may also cover investment and services. However, India is looking for an early harvest or an interim trade deal before progressing with a full pact.

During the MDTI meeting, several bilateral trade and investment issues will be discussed in order to further strengthen the bilateral ties and economic partnership including India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), added the Ministry.

Mary Ng’s visit will be significant in that respect.

“Our government is committed to diversifying trade across the Indo-Pacific region and creating more opportunities for Canadian businesses to export their innovative products and services. Canada and India already share strong trade and people-to-people ties, and I am committed to further strengthening our bilateral commercial relations, including through this women-led virtual trade mission and my upcoming trip to India,” Ng said.

Ng and Goyal had met in person on October 12 last year in Sorrento, Italy, on the margins of the G20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting.

There has been a strong recovery in bilateral trade in 2021 after the fallout as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with bilateral trade in goods reaching USD 6.29 billion registering a growth rate of 12% as compared to the previous year.

Total bilateral trade including goods and services crossed USD 11 billion. In the current financial year during April 2021-January 2022, Indian exports to Canada have increased to around USD 3 billion, registering a growth of almost 25% over the previous year, said the Ministry.

Major Indian exports to Canada include drugs and pharmaceutical products, iron & steel products, marine products, cotton fabrics & readymade garments (RMG) and chemicals etc, while key Canadian exports to India comprise pulses, fertilizers, coal, and crude petroleum etc.

India’s economy offers tremendous opportunities for Canadian companies in emerging sectors such as transportation infrastructure, life-science, clean energy technology (e.g. integration of renewable energy/smart grid; carbon capture, use and storage; and energy efficiency), and renewable energy, as well as in traditional sectors such as infrastructure development, natural resources, defence and security, value-added food products, mining, and oil and gas.

Science and technology collaboration, innovation, and educational linkages are also important areas of opportunity for Canadian business.