According to Victor T. Thomas, president of the Canada India Business Council, Canada and India should draft a common framework on agriculture-related concerns to facilitate trade in agricultural products. Mr. Thomas stated in an exclusive interview that Canada was looking forward to finalizing an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) before the Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement’s final conclusion.
‘On the agricultural side, we have very high standards. We are the sixth-largest agricultural exporter in the world. The issue has been that there have been inconsistencies on both sides. Both sides lacked an agreed-upon framework for agricultural trade. Agriculture is one of our most powerful sectors, and there is much that can be done in this area. ‘Canada’s role can be critical in ensuring food security in India,’ said Mr. Thomas, offering his perspective on resolving the difficulties in the agriculture sector negotiations.
India and Canada resumed FTA talks earlier this week when Ottawa’s Trade Minister Mary Ng was hosted by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Speaking at the event, Mr. Goyal highlighted agricultural issues that are expected to be addressed during the negotiations in the coming months. Mr. Thomas stated that Canada is interested in a variety of items from India, including jewellery, textiles, and spices, which are expected to be included in the trade agreement.
Canada and India began negotiating the FTA over a decade ago, but the talks stalled due to political shifts on both sides. Mr. Thomas stated that Canada sensed that opportunities for the trade deal had emerged as India has accelerated similar agreements with countries such as Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, adding, ‘There were times that were less than ideal. Things are getting back on track. Both countries want it to function properly.’
The two Ministers’ trade negotiations are likely to include phytosanitary measures, goods and services, rules of origin, and other issues that were also included in the recent trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Thomas emphasized similarities between Indian and Canadian democratic traditions, arguing that Canada should trade more with India than with other large economies that do not adhere to democratic principles. ‘We understand how important democracy is, and there is a need to connect our democratic partners. We have common laws and complementary economies,’ said Mr. Thomas, who also emphasized the critical role that Canadian uranium could play in shaping India’s aspirations for a pollution-free energy sector.
‘When you look at the goals that were set by the Indian government in terms of carbon reduction, uranium can play a significant role over the next 20-25 years,’ Mr. Thomas said.