Toronto: Corporate Canada expresses disappointment over Ottawa’s pause in EPTA negotiations with India.
The Canadian side requested a pause after ten rounds of negotiations, according to India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma.
Reacting to the recent development, Goldy Hyder, the President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada (BCC), headquartered in Ottawa, expressed disappointment and described it as an unfortunate occurrence. He felt that the “pause” was due to a combination of politics and difficulties in negotiating on content. The political factors are related to pro-Khalistan activities in Canada, including the Khalistan Referendum, as well as displaying anti-India posters featuring India’s senior-most diplomats in the country. There were also other irritants, such as the appearance of a float featuring the assassination of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during a parade in the Greater Toronto Area in June. With regard to the actual negotiations, Hyder felt that the issue was that there was an “over-reaching” to be more than just an EPTA. An EPTA is expected to be a trimmed precursor of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
The head of the BCC expressed disappointment over the inability to finalize a basic EPTA, especially after ten years of working on a still-to-be-completed FIPA. He believes this reflects poorly on both parties. However, there is still hope that the pause in negotiations will be temporary. A person familiar with the Canada-India business corridor noted that the relationship between Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Canadian Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng is still strong, making it possible to continue negotiations. In October, Ng is expected to lead a Team Canada trade delegation to India.
A senior Indian official stated that the Canadian side wanted to “take stock” of the negotiations, and he did not speculate on whether it was related to pro-Khalistan activity in Canada.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, arrived for the G20 leaders’ summit in India on September 9 and 10, following a brief pause.