The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
TORONTO – Both Canada and India are committed to pursue the
Comprehensive Economic Par tnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations
and take it to its logical conclusion that will culminate into
the signing of the agreement, Don Stephenson, the chief negotiator for
Canada for the agreement said during an interaction with the members of
the board of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) held last week
on February 1 at the ICCC’s global headquarters.
Stephenson also invited suggestions from the Chamber’s
directors while informing them that altogether nine rounds of
negotiations had already been concluded, and substantial
progress had already been made on both side. He said both the
governments have recently reengaged each other to complete the
agreement on a priority basis.
It may be recalled that last year Minister Chrystia Freeland and
Minister Nirmala Seetharaman had held a high-level meeting in
Ottawa and Toronto to scrutinize the progress of the negotiations
and identify the issues that were proving to be the stumbling blocks
in arriving at a consensus. Since then, both sides have been trying
to understand their and the other side’s perspective.
Stephenson said the challenges in finalising the agreement
continue to be real and present, but what has changed is the
understanding that both governments have developed over these
issues, and a renewed commitment to resolutely move forward to
arrive at a consensus on all pending issues.
Arun Srivastava, President ICCC, who had been a witness to the
negotiations between Ministers Freedland and Sitharaman,
recommended an incremental approach to the agreement to move
forward. The sectors where both countries do have agreement can
be finalised first and the sectors with more challenges can be put
on the side to move forward. Sanjay Makkar, immediate past
president, Satish Thakkar, past president, and ICCC’s board
members Pappur Shankar, Devika Penekelapati, Abu Becker and
Sanjay Brahmbhatt, were also present in the meeting.