India, Canada begin free trade talks (Lead)

November 12th, 2010 - 2:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Arvind Padmanabhan
Seoul, Nov 12 (IANS) India and Canada Friday launched talks for a comprehensive economic partnership pact, another step towards furthering their trade and business ties after signing a nuclear deal this year.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on the margins of the G20 Summit here.

It was on the sidelines of the previous G20 meet in Toronto in June that the two countries signed a civilian nuclear deal, marking the reversal of Canada’s strong stand against India’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.

Harper said: “Canada’s vibrant, one million strong, Indo-Canadian community helps promote trade and investment between our two countries.

“These people-to-people ties can only be enhanced by a new Canada-India agreement on trade,” he added in a statement issued after his meeting with Manmohan Singh.

The two sides said the new economic pact can boost their bilateral trade to $6 billion from around $4.5 billion now.

Besides meeting Harper, Manmohan Singh had a series of engagements since Thursday. He met his Ethiopian counterpart Meles Zenawi, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Manmohan Singh Friday put his grand proposal before the G20, calling for a new global rebalance in which funds from surplus nations can go to bridging the infrastructure gap in poor and emerging economies to avoid destabilisation.

He also warned against protectionism in the wake of unemployment in rich nations, while asking the G20 leadership to agree to what is called the mutual assessment process to determine what level of deficit or surplus is good or bad for each country.

The Indian delegation includes Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla.

Besides India, South Korea, the G20 comprises Brazil, the US and Canada, Argentina, Australia, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Britain and the European Union.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be reached at arvind.p@ians.in)

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