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Why a Canada-India trade deal is within reach

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Why a Canada-India trade deal is within reach

Douglas Goold is the director, National Conversation on Asia and senior editor at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Amitendu Palit is senior research fellow, Institute of Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

India’s new business-friendly Prime Minister Narendra Modi is widely expected to impart new dynamism to his country’s continuing trade negotiations. The focus will be on trade agreements with Southeast Asia, Europe and Canada. The previous government left office with India tantalizingly close to the finishing line. Now, the deal with Canada should be the easiest to conclude since it has been the least frictional and contentious. Canada’s Trade Minister Ed Fast recently made it clear he would like to see an agreement soon.

India and Canada have been negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) since December, 2011. The negotiations were to end by 2013, and now the political imperative is to have it completed well before the next federal election scheduled for October 2015.

Bilateral trade is a meager $5.8-billion (Canadian), about a third of trade between India and Australia. According to a 2010 joint Canada-India joint study, an agreement could increase Canada’s output by at least $6-billion (U.S.), and boost its exports to India by 50 per cent.

Securing the CEPA would be a historic achievement for both countries.

For Canada, after years of trying, it would be only the second agreement (after South Korea) with an Asian country and the first with a BRIC emerging economy. It would offer Canadian trade and investment preferential access in the vast South Asian region, where Canada’s business presence is growing but still limited.

Alongside NAFTA, it would complete an arc of major world markets having trade agreements with Canada, with the 2013 deal with the European Union connecting Canadian businesses across the Atlantic and the Trans-Pacific Partnership potentially doing the same across the Pacific.

Canada has what India wants in helping it solve its food and energy security – and related technologies – needs; its infrastructure and educational needs (though public education is not part of the negotiations); and tourism. Moreover, India is particularly important to the Harper government. It is one of Canada’s 13 priority markets and its million-plus diaspora helped the Conservatives achieve their first majority government in 2011.

A CEPA would not only stimulate trade and investment between the two countries but also improve the relationship, which has been vibrant since the signing of a Nuclear Co-operation Agreement in 2010, in the wake of decades of tension over the nuclear issue.

For India, the CEPA would be its first opportunity to obtain preferential access to a part of the North American market. As with Canada, the CEPA would join the dots on a neat arch connecting India to major world markets given its hoped-for free-trade agreement with Europe, and existing ones with Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea.

While Canada wanted an ambitious deal, which would include areas such as intellectual property and government procurement, India prefers something more restricted. That caution is understandable in key areas like agriculture, since more than 50 per cent of Indians still live off the land (compared to 2 per cent of Canadians), often at a subsistence level.

The final agreement will likely be close to a traditional goods and services agreement, and include clauses on areas such as rules of origins. Canada is looking for “dramatically lower” tariffs on goods and better access on services, in the face of restrictive Indian policies on foreign equity participation in areas such as financial services.

Both countries are keen to come to an agreement on the sensitive issue of visas for the temporary entry of professionals, whether it’s Canadian architects and bankers going to India or Indian IT professionals coming to Canada. Some observers say the issue is so important to both sides it is a potential deal-breaker.

Separately, negotiations for an investment protection agreement or FIPA were concluded years ago but the deal was never ratified. India put a moratorium on signing these agreements after being taken to arbitration by the Dutch telecom concern Vodafone, and the Australian mining firm White Industries, under two of its existing investment treaties. Lifting the moratorium is unlikely until the Indian authorities are able to minimize arbitration possibilities through investor-state dispute clauses in its free-trade agreements.

Canada’s hopes of getting India to sign a more potent CEPA at an early date depend on its priority for Mr. Modi. Trade is one of the five ‘T’s (alongside talent, tradition, tourism and technology) he plans to employ for rejuvenating ‘Brand India’.

That, coupled with Canada’s sustained engagement with him during the years when the U.S. and Britain kept him at a distance because of his perceived involvement in anti-Muslim riots in 2002 in his home province of Gujarat, might well inspire Mr. Modi to deliver a quick and effective agreement.

~ Douglas Goold and Amitendu Palit

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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