Both Canada and India are committed to pursue the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations and take it to its logical conclusion that will culminate in the signing of the agreement, Don Stephenson, the chief negotiator for Canada for the agreement said during an interaction with the members of the board of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) held last week on Feb. 1 at the ICCC’s global headquarters.
Stephenson also invited suggestions from the chamber’s directors while informing them that altogether nine rounds of negotiations had already been concluded, and substantial progress had already been made on both sides. He said both the governments have recently reengaged each other to complete the agreement on a priority basis.
It may be recalled that last year minister Chrystia Freeland and minister Nirmala Seetharaman had held a high-level meeting in Ottawa and Toronto to scrutinize the progress of the negotiations and identify the issues that were proving to be the stumbling blocks in arriving at a consensus. Since then, both sides have been trying to understand their and the other side’s perspective.
Mr. Stephenson said the challenges in finalizing the agreement continue to be real and present, but what has changed is the understanding that both governments have developed over these issues, and a renewed commitment to resolutely move forward to arrive at a consensus on all pending issues.
Mr. Arun Srivastava, President ICCC, who had been a witness to the negotiations between ministers Freedland and Seetharaman, recommended an incremental approach to the agreement to move forward. The sectors where both countries do have an agreement can be finalized first and the sectors with more challenges can be put on the side to move forward.
Mr. Sanjay Makkar, immediate past president, Mr. Satish Thakkar, past president, and ICCC’s board members Mr. Pappur Shankar, Ms. Devika Penekelapati, Mr. Abu Becker and Mr. Sanjay Brahmbhatt, were also present in the meeting.