India-Canada trade to triple in five years: Anand Sharma

Sharma, who is here with a high-powered delegation of business and industry leaders to further "strategic dialogue" between the two countries, said there was an "enormous potential'' for trade between the two complementary economies.

"The trade between our two countries was close to $5 billion before the global downturn, and it has come down marginally. Both our prime ministers have given the mandate to take it to $15 billion by 2015. It is achievable,'' said Sharma who will meet his Canadian counterpart Peter Van Loan in Ottawa Friday.

He will also call on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and attend a round-table with  the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

Sharma said the proposed comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) between the countries will take their commercial ties in trade and services to higher level.
A joint study group formed by the two countries to study key areas of interest and the scope of CEPA has already submitted its report to the two governments, he said. "The two sides have exchanged drafts, and completed governmental procedures to launch the agreement.''

Sharma said the joint study group was created during the Indian visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in November when the two countries elevated their ties to 'strategic partnership' and agreed on regular CEOs' round-tables,

When formally signed, CEPA will give preferential access to the two markets. It will eliminate tariffs on most goods, create opportunities in services, set rules in investment and cut non-tariff barriers.

After CEPA, Canadian exports - forest products, nickel, aircraft, electrical machinery, fish and seafood products and agricultural products (cereals, lentils) - will get free access to the Indian market.

India's exports of precious stones, diamonds, jewellry and apparel to Canada are also expected to rise substantially after CEPA is signed.

Inviting Canadian investors to India, the commerce minister said,"India is the second-fastest growing in the world and among top favourite investment destinations.'' Investments in India, he said, fetched the highest returns today.

Sharma is the second Indian cabinet minister to visit Canada after the signing of the path-breaking nuclear deal by the two countries during Manmohan Singh's visit here in June. B.K. Handique, minister for mines, was here in July.

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