As some of you know already, this month saw a real push towards the final stages of an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) between Canada and India. I am referring to the high-level visit by India’s Minister of Commerce, Hon. Piyush Goyal. Minister Goyal is known for his pragmatic style of functioning and admired for his focused and time-bound guidance on an impressive number of portfolios that he oversees. Besides, he also carries a nice political heft as the leader of the ruling party in India’s upper house, the Rajya Sabha.
So, when we first heard about his visit to Canada to meet with our Minister of International Trade, Hon. Mary Ng, we knew the stage was getting set for a fundamental shift in the way each side viewed each other. To her great credit, Minister Ng paved the way for the breakthrough by taking a trade mission to India in 2022 conveying to the government of India Canada’s earnest desire to tackle all issues regarding EPTA in a mutually respectful manner. I recall that during an interaction with CIF members, Minister Ng even pointed out that how the two ministers after referring to each other by their respective honorifics formally, was on first name basis by the end of bilateral discussions.
CIF was among the select few organizations who had the occasion to interact with Minister Goyal during his brief stay in Toronto. Many of our members are deeply engaged in the Canada India corridor by way of trade and investment. The Minister was open and detailed in his replies to the queries we raised. We came away convinced that between Minister Ng and Minister Goyal, we have two people who can definitely get this agreement done.
Minister Goyal is now back in India. But the professionals under their leadership are hard at work fine-tuning the tone and content of a possible Early Progress Trade Agreement. Reports also mention that both ministers are personally supervising the progress of the negotiations. At least that is the impression we get from various sources. Maybe, we can expect an announcement before September 2023. And that would be a wonderful occasion as perhaps our Prime Minister Hon. Justin Trudeau will be in India to attend the G-20 summit. This bit of news would make it a truly memorable summit especially for the 2 million strong Indo Canadian community.
The future is full of potential. India recently announced an ambitious target of reaching $2 trillion in exports in the next five years. This also means that the country’s needs for goods and services will also show dramatic growth by way of imports. The trends are very promising. India’s imports in 2023 rose 16.5 per cent to $714 billion as against $613 billion in FY22. This offers never before opportunities for great trading nations like Canada.
There is optimism in both camps that talks, delayed for a decade, are at last running on an even keel. True, there are still many challenges to be overcome through. There will be points of contention that Canada and India might hold divergent views on. Some of these issues might also be the result of the different stages each country is in their respective economic journeys. That is why we at CIF, are particularly keen to see the signing of an EPTA which would be an ideal take off point for more substantial engagement later. This period would also give both sides enough time to test mutual expectations against real outcomes.
Canada India Foundation will be holding two major events during the summer months and both are slated to be ‘hot’ items on the community calendar. We have scheduled the CIF Annual Charity Golf tournament this year at the Lionhead Golf Club, Brampton on August 09, 2023.
And of course, our signature event each year that garners not only local but global attention – CIF Global Indian Award Gala that will take place on September 29th, 2023. Hold your dates if you are planning to be there in person. Over the years we have honoured the best of India’s great achievers’ who have earned international respect for their contributions. This year, you might be even more surprised by the winner, very pleasantly I may add. But due to protocol, the name will be announced in due course.
Stay tuned and enjoy the coming summer.