India and Canada likely to sign economic pact: Minister

India and Canada likely to sign economic pact: Minister Toronto: Canada and India are likely to sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement this year that could raise bilateral trade to 15 billion dollars in two years and substantially boost two-way investments, Canadian Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast has said.

"Canada and India will discuss ways and means to speed up conclusion of CEPA (bilateral free trade agreement) when I meet my counterpart Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma in Devos this week", Fast said before leaving for Switzerland to attend World Economic Forum Meeting being held in Davos.

Earlier, talking to members of the Indo-Canadian business community for pre-budget consultations, the Minister said the government is committed to a strengthen Canada-India trade and investment relationship and added that a seventh round of negotiations toward a Canada-India trade agreement would be held in New Delhi from February 5 to 7, this year.

The Minister said that the proposed pact could boost Canada's economy by at least 6 billion Canadian dollars.

"That translates to almost 40,000 new jobs across the country, or a 500 dollar boost to the average Canadian family's annual income," he said.

The Minister added that Canada has identified core economic opportunities in India in the energy, agriculture, infrastructure and education sectors.

"The economy remains our government's top priority, and securing access to large, dynamic and fast-growing markets, such as India, is a key part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in our nation's history," Fast said.

He added, "That is why I am pleased to be hearing from business leaders as we discuss the best way to continue to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadian families".

Naval Bajaj, President of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Satish Thakkar, Immediate Past President of the ICCC, who recently returned from a trade mission with Canadian municipal leaders from India, said: "Canadian businesses are very excited about the opportunities that would come from a Canada-India trade agreement.

"Canada and India complement each other, and a stronger trade and investment relationship will benefit both countries greatly", they said.

"Canada has the resources and expertise to propel India's development and fast-paced growth, and India has the young talent that Canada needs," they added.

In less than six years, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries: Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

In addition to India, Canada is engaged in negotiations with large, dynamic and fast-growing markets such as the European Union, Japan and the countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

PTI