Canadian Delegation Meets With Amritsar Businessmen, Wants India To Expedite Free Trade

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AMRITSAR – A nine-member Canadian parliamentary team has sought the support of the local business community for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with India.

The delegation included Scot Slessor, Consul General of Canada. The team met with representatives of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at Radisson Blue Hotel here to learn more about business opportunities in the region.

The delegates explored the potential of business opportunities between the two countries.

Canadian delegates opined that opportunities are very vast as there are tremendous scope in the education sector, tourism, manufacturing, services and many other could be built if this free trade agreement was reached as soon as possible.

According to available data, trade between the two countries is showing signs of picking up. Indian exports to Canada have seen a 16.47 percent increase in 2010-2011 as compared to the previous year. Although a drop of 7.14 percent is seen in Indian imports for the same period, the total value of imports is still much more than the value of exports.

Surrey-White Rock MP Russ Hiebert told the media in Punjab that the aim of the meeting was to connect with the local business community and to understand the tremendous opportunities that exist between Canada and India.

Hiebert said that Canada and India negotiating on the CEPA or the Free Trade Agreement and this is the most important time that the business representatives like those who attended this meeting would talk to their elected representatives in help them understand how important it is that this agreement to be concluded as quickly as possible.

In December 2011, Canada and India completed the third round of negotiations toward a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). In the third round, progress was made in the many areas and Subsequent negotiation rounds are tentatively scheduled for early 2012. CEPA negotiations remain a key priority in the Government of Canada’s international trade plan. Canada seek to conclude the CEPA at the earliest.

Terming the meeting as a sucessful, the Chairman CII Amritsar Zone and Director Khanna Paper Mills, Suneet Kochar, stressed that tourism and hospitality are two main sectors that need greater focus.

Kochar said Canada and Punjab have shared a bond that go as far back as the late 19th century when veterans of the British army, mostly Sikhs, chose to make that country their new home.

Rajan Gill, Managing Director of the Radisson Blue Amritsar, said: ” We have got good ideas about many new avenues which can be explored. That primarily includes agriculture, tourism and others.”

The Canadian delegates also visited the Golden Temple.