India, Canada keen to move forward on proposed FTA

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India and Canada today expressed their keenness to move forward negotiations on the proposed free trade agreement in order to further boost the economic ties between the countries.

The issue came up when Canadian Minister for International Trade Ed Fast called new Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to greet her on assuming office.

"Both the sides evinced interest in taking the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations forward," an official statement today said.

The proposed pact aimed at slashing or eliminating duties on a large number of products traded between the countries, besides opening the services sector and facilitating investment proposals.

The negotiations for the agreement, which is officially dubbed as CEPA, was launched by both the countries in November 2010 to further boost bilateral trade and investment.

In the telephonic conversation, both the ministers also reviewed the bilateral trade issues.

Pointing towards the low level of Canadian investments in India, Sitharaman said: "We will be keen on ascertaining areas of interest and work out strategies to promote Canadian investments in India."

The Canadian Minister said that its country can fill up the gaps in areas of food processing, energy and education.

India's exports to Canada include organic chemicals, precious stones, metals, apparel and machinery, while imports from Canada comprise vegetables, fertilisers, paper and paperboard, machinery, wood pulp, iron and steel.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at $ 4.83 billion in 2012-13.

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