Plans for Canada-India free trade agreement put on hold

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Talks over a potential new free trade agreement between Canada and India have been put on hold due to Canada's focus on the TPP.

Efforts to create a new free trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and India have been put on hold due to a number of obstacles.

Official sources close to the discussions told The Hindu that the planned FTA, called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, has been place on the back burner for the time being, with talks having originally commenced in November 2010.

The decision to delay the agreement process has been taken as Canada's focus has switched to completing the ratification process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the US-led FTA covering numerous Pacific rim nations, of which India is not a member.

Additionally, Canada is attempting to convince India to ensure that the bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) is signed and brought into force before proceeding with the talks, citing demands from investors, especially those in the financial services sector.

This is because the FTA is set to include stipulations on opening up merchandise goods and services trade between both the countries, with the investment aspects covered separately by the FIPA. As such, investors are keen to see this put in place to make sure their rights are protected.

Canada's High Commission told The Hindu: "Canada's new government is focusing on expanding trade with large fast-growing markets, including India… Canada's new government looks forward to engaging India on key economic and other issues that will enhance our mutual prosperity."

When finalised, the FTA is intended to help Canadian companies gain improved access to a market comprising more than 1.25 billion people, while Indian companies will be able to expand their interests in the lucrative North American market by using Canada as a hub.