Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canada India FTA Would Be Concluded Till 2013

India has been entering into foreign trade agreements (FTA) with numerous countries. Some of them are smooth whereas others like European Union and India FTA are considered to be tough.

Recently EU Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, announced his plans to slash the number of countries, from 176 to 80, that benefit from the generalised system of preferences (GSP) scheme, whereby eligible nations enjoy reduced or zero customs tariffs on imported goods.

The EU India FTA would also involve various intellectual property rights (IPRs) issues as well. Further, EU, India and other countries may also face technological issues of IPRs in future. For instance, technology transfer has been a subject of much debate in the past. While developed countries are reluctant in technology transfer yet developing countries are insisting for the same.

Meanwhile, Canada claims that it wants to conclude the ongoing negotiations for a comprehensive market opening pact with India by 2013. "The free trade pact would provide the building block to shape the future economic relations of both the countries. It will facilitate trade and investment between the countries," said Canadian Deputy High Commissioner Jim Nickel.

India and Canada formally launched negotiations in November, 2010 for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to boost bilateral trade. As per a joint study group report, both countries will benefit from the CEPA. According to the report, India and Canada's GDP are likely to get benefit in the range of USD 6 billion and USD 15 billion per year from the trade pact. Both the sides expected that bilateral trade between the countries would be tripled to USD 15 billion by 2015 from USD 5 billion currently.

Canada primarily exporting vegetables, fertilisers, machinery and wood pulp, while its main imports from India were organic chemicals, knit and woven apparel, precious stones and metals, electronics and machinery.

India has already operationalised a similar trade pact with South Korea and Singapore and recently concluded a comprehensive free trade agreement with Japan and Malaysia. Both the sides are also negotiating an Audio-Visual Co-production Treaty. Under this, film and music producers of both the countries would get tax benefits besides other incentives. The 22nd session of the WIPO’s standing committee on copyright and related rights is also discussing this issue and many such related issues.

"This would cover all areas of entertainment and media, films and music. We have discussed IPR thing in it. The benefits of this are that our tax incentives, subsidies, waiving of fees that producer could take advantage of," he said. However, issues of dispute resolution of entertainment and media industry through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR) must also be considered by India.

He also said that huge opportunities are available in sectors like education, energy, food, agriculture, civil nuclear, IT and communication, where both the sides can cooperate. Further, Nickel said growing cooperation in education sector will help in attracting more Indian students to Canada.

On similar fronts, Indian and European Union are already engaged in Euro India ICT Cooperation, Euro India Joint ICT Research and Innovation Programmes, etc. Similar projects and programmes can also be undertaken between Canada and India.