Canada and India are quietly preparing to resume formal free trade negotiations as the Trudeau government seeks an economic alternative to China following the controversy over Meng Wanzhou.
India’s Deputy High Commissioner for Canada, Anshman Goal, said trade negotiators from both countries held four “councils” through video last year, and both sides made preliminary proposals in October. Said that.
“They talked about the approach and possible paths ahead,” he said in an interview last week.
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The new involvement is the result of India’s aggressive new trade policy called “early harvest” in full-scale free trade agreements with the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Arab Emirates. The country is about to take a step-by-step step towards it. Canada now.
It also happens when the federal government emerges from the aftermath of a three-year diplomatic freeze with China after Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig have recently been successfully returned to Canada. They spent more than 1,000 days in a Chinese prison, widely seen in retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in an American extradition warrant in 2018.
Canada aims to reduce its economic reliance on China and diversify into new Asian markets. Recently, we have begun formal trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations known as ASEAN (a block of 10 countries including the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand).
The Liberal Party’s November 23 throne speech acknowledged its priorities when stating: Canada will continue to work with its major allies and partners, making prudent efforts to deepen partnerships across the Indo-Pacific and the Arctic Circle. “
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International Trade Minister Mary Ng discussed the possibility of a deal with India’s counterpart, Piyuche Goyal, at a G20 meeting in Rome last summer.
“I think India and Canada will definitely have the opportunity to deepen our business relationship,” Ng said in an interview.
Canada began trade negotiations with India over a decade ago under Stephen Harper’s conservative government. The on-off process stopped again in 2018, when Canada was in the midst of intense renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico, which was instigated by former US President Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a controversial visit to India in February 2018, and he and his family faced intense criticism in their hometown of wearing traditional Indian clothing.
Gaul said he understood the need to focus on the United States and Mexico, ignoring the proposal that Trudeau rubbed his country the wrong way.
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None of this undermines India’s interest in doing business with Canada in order to boost $ 12.8 billion in bilateral trade between the two countries annually, he said.
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As a result, Canada has become one of India’s priority countries for its “early harvest” trade strategy. This is a true stepping stone approach to accelerating progress towards a broader free trade agreement. It involves pursuing partial progress in lowering tariffs on some goods and services, while leaving more difficult issues unsolved for later, more comprehensive free trade agreements. ..
“We are trying to formalize the agreement on the areas with the least differences and continue to discuss some of the areas with the greater differences,” Gaur said.
India’s pursuit of trade agreements begins with many countries, including Canada, valuing their position with China amid growing concerns about human rights.
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Gaul suggested that Canada and India can build on a common feature that neither Canada nor India shares with China: the common law legal heritage inherited from Britain.
“Parliamentary democracy has a deeper understanding of the other party’s system and needs more trust between them,” Gaul said. “The degree of familiarity that this is the rule of law and this is a democracy is a very strong motivation for many to see India as a potential trading partner.”
Mr Gaul said China will continue to be an “important trading partner for all” given its huge manufacturing capacity and market size.
“But in the context of limiting relationships with someone else, we usually don’t see diversification and building more connections,” he said in an interview with the Indian High Commission in Ottawa. I did.
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“Canada is always pursuing trade based on Canada’s values and, first and foremost, the interests driven by Canada’s interests,” Ng said.
The Canadian Business Council, which represents the strongest CEO of Canadian companies, is also very bullish on India and is studying the possible benefits of expanded trade relationships.
Trevor Kennedy, director of trade and international policy for the council, said India is a “country with complex negotiations” because it is a coalition of interests in a wide range of regions. But its immense scale and high levels of growth point out that others are pursuing a deal with India, which means Canada must make coordinated efforts.
“Whether protection trade is emerging in the United States or a new version of China, big markets like India are very important because they offer several options,” Kennedy said. Mr. said.
“I don’t want to be left behind if major trading partners are competing ahead.”
With the exception of agricultural products and natural resources (uranium is Canada’s main source of electricity for India’s nuclear reactors), Kennedy said the potential for growth in financial services between the two countries is high. He quoted increased investment by companies such as the Canadian pension system and Manulife.
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This week, a delegation of 40 Indian information technology companies toured Canada, stopping in coastal states, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Waterloo, Ontario.
“The Government of Canada has invested heavily in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and now is the time to partner with Indian IT companies to benefit from scaling up,” Gaur said. Mr. says.
Behind-the-scenes work between government negotiators is on track, especially following a recent virtual meeting of trade officials, Gaul said.
“They share a position paper,” both sides “better understand each other’s position,” Gaul said.
India expects Canada’s response in the coming weeks, preferably before Christmas, he said, “because our political leaders are pushing very hard.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Canada and India are paying attention to trade negotiations as liberals seek alternatives to China-nationwide
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