Trade ministers of India and Canada have directed their chief negotiators to find ways for early conclusion of the proposed free trade agreement, the commerce ministry said today. The proposed agreement, officially dubbed as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), came in for discussion during a meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and Canadian Minister for International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne here. Champagne is here for the 4th India-Canada Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment. Both the ministers expressed their strong commitment for taking forward negotiations for early conclusion, the ministry said in a statement. "The ministers directed the chief negotiators to discuss and explore ways for early conclusion of the agreement," it added. India emphasised on the importance of the services sector as a key component of the proposed pact and asked for resolution of issues related the segment. "The Canadian side assured that they would look into the issues concerned, including movement of natural persons and what kind of provisions could be built into the CEPA," it said. The negotiations for the agreement were launched in November 2010 to boost bilateral trade and investments. The CEPA is a comprehensive free trade agreement under which two trade partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties, besides liberalising trade in services and investment norms. The commerce ministry also said that India and Canada discussed about the progress made under the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Both the ministers expressed hope for an early conclusion of FIPA, it added. Further the ministers stated that the bilateral trade is "much below" the potential despite existence of huge untapped potential. The two-way trade stood at USD 6.13 billion in 2016-17, down 1.87 per cent from the previous year. Further, it said it was agreed during the deliberations to explore collaboration in the area of export credit insurance through India's Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd. and Canada's Export Development Canada (EDC). Canada also proposed for possible cooperation with their Canadian Commercial Corporation. Besides, both the ministers discussed issues such as early institutionalisation of the CEO Forum mechanism and extension of derogation of pulses. On pulses, Prabhu noted that Canada has done lot of work on geo-spatial planning and Geographical Information System and both these expertise should be utilised in areas like analysing crop production systems in India, trend forecast for next 10 years. "...and accordingly work towards a predictable environment for potential pulses which could be supplied from Canada," it added.
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