Over 230,000 students from India are enrolled in post-secondary institutions in Canada, and ‘making a positive contribution to the Canadian economy including through an estimated 4 billion Canadian dollars in tuition fees’
Canada committed to interim trade pact with India; next round of negotiations in September
TORONTO: The Canadian government has reaffirmed its commitment to an interim trade pact with India, even as the next round of negotiations will be held in India next month.
After a virtual discussion between Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mary Ng and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday, a release from Global Affairs Canada noted she “reaffirmed Canada’s goal of maintaining momentum in the fourth round of negotiations, which are scheduled to take place in September”.
These talks are for securing an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), a transitory step towards deal till a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) can be worked out. According to an Indian official close to the discussions, a “working text” may be available by October.
The two ministers are likely to meet on the margins of the G20 Trade Ministers gathering in Bali, Indonesia, which runs from September 21 to 23.
Ng “emphasised the value of advancing trade and investment relations between Canada and India and underlined the progress in negotiations for a Canada-India early progress trade agreement held in July and August 2022”, according to the release from the foreign ministry.
Ng tweeted she had “another productive monthly update” with Goyal on the “collaboration to strengthen Canada-India trade”.
India and Canada decided to consider the interim agreement when Ng visited New Delhi in March and held a ministerial dialogue on trade and investment with Goyal on March 11.
According to the Canadian government data for 2020, the country’s imports from India were pegged at CA$ 4.97 billion while its exports stood at CA$ 3.71 billion. Major trade between the two sides covered exports of metal ores, non-metallic products and energy products from Canada, and imports of textiles and consumer goods from India. The country’s stated trade goal is to cross the CA$ 10 billion mark.
Canadian business groups have sought early progress on the discussions. As Victor Thomas, president and CEO of the Canada India Business Council, pointed out, “We (Canada and India) have natural complimentary economies and should be drastically increasing our trade together.”
Advance Team Arrives in India and Begins Meetings with Nursing Colleges
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s advance team for the mission to establish a nursing recruitment desk is now in Bengaluru, India, and will be also be spending time in Mangalore, Manipal and Hyderabad in the coming weeks. The advance team is accompanied by the Executive Director of the College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, who is dedicated to oversee areas of regulatory alignment and comparable educational programs.
On Monday, November 21, the advance team held a series of meetings with St. Martha’s College of Nursing, a nursing training institution established in 1933. Meetings at St. Martha’s included a meeting with senior administrators and a presentation to 50 final-year nursing students about career opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.
On Tuesday, November 22, the team visited the East West Group of Institutions campus. This visit included meetings with the chairman, executive director, director of academics, and the principal of the School of Nursing and Physiotherapy. A presentation on health employment opportunities was delivered to more than 100 final-year nursing students.
The goal at each meeting is to establish mutually beneficial partnerships between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and these post-secondary institutions.
In the coming days, meetings will take place with other nursing colleges throughout Karnataka state, the Karnataka State Nursing Council and the Government of Telangana and its Telangana Overseas Manpower Company in Hyderabad.
To complement in-person recruitment and relationship-building activities, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is launching an email portal to engage with nurses from India who are interested in coming to work in Newfoundland and Labrador. Interested nursing students and registered nurses in India should convey their interest to [email protected]. By using this email, interested nurses will be taken through the process involved in moving to Newfoundland and Labrador to work as a registered nurse.
“With urgency and purpose, our advance team is on-the-ground in India and has already begun meeting with senior leadership, administrators and students at prestigious nursing institutions. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador officials, together with the College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, are breaking new ground together as we work to fill nursing positions in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Honourable Dr. Andrew Furey
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
“The mission to recruit qualified registered nurses from India has begun in earnest. Less than 24 hours after arrival our team was already meeting with quality candidates interested in working as nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador. We look forward to the many planned meetings and engagements in the days ahead to build strong relationships in advance of the official recruiting mission in early 2023.”
Honourable Gerry Byrne
Minister of Immigration, Population Growth and Skills
“I am delighted that efforts are underway in India regarding the recruitment of much needed registered nurses. It is so important that we attract additional qualified health care professionals to help carry the load that our nurses have carried for some time now. It is our goal that this mission will be the start of a very successful recruitment effort.”
Honourable Tom Osborne
Minister of Health and Community Services
“The College of Registered Nurses is the largest health care regulator in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our unwavering mandate is to ensure the people of our province receive care from Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners that meets a standard of excellence. Our role in this mission is to explore areas of regulatory alignment for those who wish to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador and to identify areas of improvement in the application process.”
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s advance team for the mission to establish a nursing recruitment desk is now in Bengaluru, India, and will be also be spending time in Mangalore, Manipal and Hyderabad in the coming weeks. The advance team is accompanied by the Executive Director of...
Prioritizing the Indian Ocean in US Indo-Pacific Strategy
Washington’s Indo-Pacific framework merges theatres in East Asia, South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the Western Pacific into an integrated theatre that envisages working with like-minded countries to uphold a regional rules-based order. However, the U.S.’s lack of focus on the Indian Ocean within the Indo-Pacific strategy demonstrates singular tunnel vision that limits a holistic, context-specific view of the wider region. Against increasing Chinese presence and influence in the region, pushing the Indian Ocean to become a mere appendix to the Pacific Ocean could threaten U.S. long-term national interests.
This policy memo highlights the Indian Ocean’s role in the Indo-Pacific and makes a case for Washington to strengthen engagement with actors across the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Building on the existing policy focus on enhancing relations with India, this memo provides recommendations for strengthening U.S.-India cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
Importance of the Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean has been a critical trade route for centuries and currently accounts for “one-third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments.”1 Home to roughly 35 percent of the world population, the Indian Ocean economy2 accounted for 10.7 percent of the global GDP in 2017 and is expected to account for a fifth by 2025.3 Spanning three continents, the Indian Ocean’s vast and diverse maritime geography is often understood as consisting of several sub-regions broadly encompassing Australasia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Eastern & Southern Africa. This view is prevalent in Washington’s military and civilian institutions. The Indian Ocean is divided across commands in the Department of Defense and the Department of State’s geographical bureaus, arguably due to bureaucratic tractability and institutional history. Whether the Indian Ocean is best viewed as a unified whole or a set of interconnected subregions is a matter of scholarly debate.4 Still, there is a broad consensus on the growing geostrategic importance of the Indian Ocean.
With intensifying great power competition between the United States and China, the relatively peaceful Indian Ocean region is metamorphosing into an important theatre of strategic competition and power politics. During the Cold War, the Indian Ocean was a secondary theatre. The United States’ presence in the region was largely reactive to the growing strength of the Soviet Union’s Indian Ocean Squadron. The Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian revolution, both in 1979, pushed the United States to establish a forward presence with carrier battle group presence in the Indian Ocean and expand the naval base at Diego Garcia, located in the heart of Indian Ocean in the Chagos Archipelago.5
With the end of Cold War and the subsequent reorganization of foreign policy priorities, the Indian Ocean was seen as important for supporting engagements in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and as a transit corridor between the Persian Gulf and the Western Pacific.6 Washington maintained a security presence in the region through its military base in Diego Garcia, naval assets in Gulf states, and regular operation of Seventh Fleet and Fifth Fleet warships—mainly concentrated in the northwestern Indian Ocean, in and around the Persian Gulf. However, Washington did little to expand its non-military presence across the region. Washington’s reduced dependence on energy imports from the Persian Gulf and more active involvement in the militarized disputes in the Western Pacific—the primary theatre of maritime competition with China—relegated the Indian Ocean to secondary importance in the hierarchy of U.S. foreign policy priorities.
Washington’s reduced dependence on energy imports from the Persian Gulf and more active involvement in the militarized disputes in the Western Pacific—the primary theatre of maritime competition with China—relegated the Indian Ocean to secondary importance in the hierarchy of U.S. foreign policy priorities.
The ‘China Challenge’ In The Indian Ocean
Beijing has successfully expanded its military footprint in the Indian Ocean despite the tyranny of distance between Chinese ports and the Indian Ocean. From having a negligible military presence in the Indian Ocean during the 1990s, Beijing today has a growing presence of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships and submarine deployments conducting naval operations in the northern Indian Ocean.7 Since 2014, China has been conducting regular exercises in the eastern Indian Ocean8 and has secured its presence in the western edges through its overseas naval base in Djibouti. The elevation of the Indian Ocean in Beijing’s maritime calculations is not surprising. Rather, it is part of China’s “two oceans” approach to maritime security, paralleling PLAN’s expanded focus from “offshore waters defense” to “open seas protection.”9 According to the Pentagon’s estimate, Beijing is likely to continue “developing the capabilities and operational concepts to conduct offensive operations” (emphasis added) in the Indian Ocean.10
Many in Washington’s strategic community do not assess China’s military presence in the Indian Ocean as an immediate cause of concern. One interviewee highlighted that China’s military presence in the Indian Ocean creates more vulnerabilities than advantages for Beijing because of China’s relatively limited power projection capabilities in distant waters.11 Others saw China’s military presence to be relatively benign, aimed at protecting its overseas investments and providing security to its nationals living in the region, rather than a challenge to US presence in the region.
Undoubtedly, the Indian Ocean is too large for any one country to dominate militarily. However, a myopic focus only on Chinese military presence in the region risks misreading Beijing’s strategy, which is based on the political and economic realities of the region. The challenge comes from growing Chinese influence and acceptability as a “welcome alternative to Western powers”12 in the region. China is acting in tandem with Russia and Iran to build a “regional coalition”13 of countries to buttress China’s maritime security in the Persian Gulf through the formation of the “Marine Security Belt.” China, Russia, and Iran held their first joint naval drill in the region in 2019. Their coordinated efforts could present a potential challenge to the U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct, which was also formed in 2019 to support regional stability and security of maritime commons in the Gulf region. Building economic dependency and political ties with regional military leaders, local officials, and port authorities are elements in Beijing’s strategy toward the region, especially in littoral African countries. Under the Maritime Silk Road rubric, China is bolstering its visibility and building dependencies with partner states through lucrative investments in maritime infrastructure, especially deep-water ports, in the region.14 The dual-use potential of these bases is still uncertain. Still, its more obvious and immediate effect has been strengthening Chinese soft power in the region as a reliable “development partner.” China is successfully building strategic leverage in the region, paving the way for Beijing’s use of “coercive economic tools” to secure its regional interests.15
Indian Ocean in the Indo-Pacific
While Indo-Pacific discourse emerged in the Obama years, it was under President Trump that the “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy gathered steam. His administration made the region a top priority as rivalry with China came to define U.S. grand strategy.
Although the “Indo-Pacific” was meant to represent the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans—where the U.S. would act in concert with like-minded allies and partners—Washington adopted a narrow geographic frame of reference relative to Japan, India, France, and ASEAN. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy defined the Indo-Pacific as stretching from the “west coast of India to the western shores of the United States.” This conceptualization of the region left out the entire Western Indian Ocean (WIO). Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), France’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, and India’s SAGAR vision all define the Indo-Pacific to include the entire Indian Ocean reaching the African continent.
In the 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy, the framing of the Indo-Pacific coincided with the U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility. The command name change to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in 2018 reinforced India’s importance to U.S. defense strategy. However, it was not until the Biden administration that the U.S. government acknowledged that the entire Indian Ocean was an integral part of any Indo-Pacific vision.
Even with this acknowledgment, the Biden administration’s revised Indo-Pacific strategy report does not mention Africa, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, or the Bay of Bengal. It only mentions the Indian Ocean in one instance. The entire WIO, which stretches from the Red Sea, along coastal East Africa, to the Gulf of Oman and the island nations of the Arabian Sea—linking Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, is virtually absent from public Indo-Pacific strategies, despite the importance of the WIO for sea-borne trade, uninterrupted energy supply, and global economic security.
A case could be made that this lesser emphasis on the Indian Ocean in the Indo-Pacific construct is appropriate. Unlike the heavily militarized Western Pacific, the threat of a direct military conflict in the Indian Ocean is low. Washington is bound by collective defense arrangements16 in the Pacific area, making it the Pentagon’s primary focus area, especially the volatile first and second island chain, and Taiwan. Yet, the U.S. military’s deteriorating position within the first and second island chains in the Pacific reinforces the Indian Ocean’s role as a strategic theatre in the event of a contingency in the Pacific.
Professor Aaron L. Friedberg highlights how despite China’s relatively fragile Indian Ocean posture, it has strong incentives to launch an attack in the Indian Ocean “in the first blow” to compel the “shift of some U.S. forces from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.”17 Even though China’s rapid militarization in the Indian Ocean does not present operational challenges to US naval fleets, such presence “in terms of intelligence gathering, stealth, and endurance” could “severely upset American strategic and operational planning” in the wider region.18 Given China’s expansion of nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean, and in the event of deterrence failure, Washington needs to maintain a credible, sea-based, second-strike retaliatory nuclear capability to prevent coercion of U.S. allies and ensure unimpeded movement of U.S. military forces across the Indian Ocean.
As proposed by current Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in 2019, this necessitates diversification of “military presence towards Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, making use of access agreements rather than permanent basing when necessary.”19 The Biden administration did not address this proposal in the 2021 Global Posture Review.20
Given China’s expansion of nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean, and in the event of deterrence failure, Washington needs to maintain a credible, sea-based, second-strike retaliatory nuclear capability to prevent coercion of U.S. allies and ensure unimpeded movement of U.S. military forces across the Indian Ocean.
Beijing has shown utter disregard for the lawful order in the Indian Ocean, which the United States and its partners stand for. China’s increasingly aggressive and disorderly behavior is threatening the rules-based order—which forms the normative rationale for the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy—while carefully remaining below the threshold of armed escalation.
One example of such behavior is the PLAN’s use of “non-lethal electromagnetic weapons” such as lasers to stop what it sees as “intrusions” by foreign navies.21 Although such activities have mainly been concentrated in the East and South China Sea and surrounding regions, China has demonstrated its ability to do so in the Indian Ocean by lasering US Air Force personnel in Djibouti in 2018.22 In 2017, PLAN’s live-fire drills in the Western Indian Ocean garnered international attention for its presentation of the exercise as explicitly targeting the vessels of unnamed “enemy ships” in the Indian Ocean.23
The Indian navy has raised concerns about Chinese marine research vessels entering India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without New Delhi’s prior consent, which violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.24 China has been bolstering its fishing presence in areas like the northwestern Indian Ocean, which are subject to “very little management and limited regulatory oversight,” raising concerns about Beijing’s unregulated fishing threatening the sustainability of fish stocks in the region.25 Unregistered Chinese fishing vessels have increased their operations in the northwestern Indian Ocean (NWIO) at a time when the reported incidents of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing notably increased throughout the Indian Ocean.26 This is in addition to the Chinese-flagged vessels operating in the high seas of NWIO, just outside Omani and Yemeni EEZs, which have increased their presence from just four in 2015 to over two hundred in 2020.27
China, which already has agreements with several coastal West African countries for fisheries operations in their EEZs, is now looking to African countries along the western Indian Ocean as Beijing looks to expand its distant water fishery sector further.28 These agreements have “transformed the political ecology” of fishing in West Africa by impoverishing local small-scale fisheries that have to unfairly compete with large Chinese industrial vessels and multinational corporations for access to local maritime resources.29 Beijing is gaining access to the sovereign resources of many of these African coastal countries by entering into joint ventures with local companies, giving Chinese trawlers access to their resources.30
Washington needs to pay careful attention to such Chinese moves and respond assertively as the Indian Ocean comes to play an increasingly important role in the rules-based international order.31 In the United States’ renewed attempt to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, Washington needs to come up with cost effective policy instruments curated to address local regional challenges. Looking forward, Indian Ocean needs to feature more prominently into U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy.
Increase US Coast Guard Presence Along the Indian Ocean Coast of Africa
Since the African Command (AFRICOM) formed within the U.S. Department of Defense in 2008, the U.S. Navy has maintained a steady presence along the coast of Africa, especially with the establishment of Cutlass Express in 2011. Working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, AFRICOM executes two primary maritime security programs, African Partnership Station (APS) program and the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP). Under the APS banner, coast guard vessels began training exercises in East Africa in 2009 which since then have been few and sporadic.32 Coast Guard operations conducted with AFRICOM to address the problem of IUU fishing have been mostly along the Atlantic Coast of Africa.33 More notable is the US Coast Guard’s active presence in training the Pacific Islands nations, primarily through the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative. The framework to engage the US Coast Guard in activities to deter, detect and disrupt IUU fishing already exists with the APS and AMLEP. However, their activities need to be attuned to focus more along the east coast of Africa, especially in training and strengthening maritime law enforcement capabilities of key coastal east African countries.
Improve Representation of Key States in Indo-Pacific-Focused Platforms
Progress toward building an Indian Ocean regional grouping has been slow. Only the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) can be considered as “near region-wide” bodies in the Indian Ocean.34 Although all 23 IORA members and countries participate in the IONS, U.S. diplomatic engagement has been limited to IORA in the capacity of a dialogue partner. Washington’s non-participation in the IONS—despite reportedly being extended an invitation to join IOR-ARC35—limits avenues for multilateral engagement with Indian Ocean littorals. Currently, Washington has only three embassies and two defense attaches covering the seven island nations in the Indian Ocean, which further handicaps the U.S. from diplomatically engaging in the region.
As the island and coastal states of the Indian Ocean expand their continental focus to embrace their maritime identity actively, Washington has an opportunity to engage with these actors to build wide-ranging support for extended regional conceptualization of the Indian Ocean as a part of the Indo-Pacific. The challenge for Washington is that these island countries’ engagement with the Indo-Pacific framework has been lukewarm—at best. Through the effort of key Indo-Pacific partners, India and Japan, there is a growing acceptance of the legitimacy of the Indo-Pacific strategy.36 However, there is an equally strong need for more dialogue with these countries to alleviate their concerns and fears of the increasing militarization of the region. Such dialogue should occur within existing Indo-Pacific forums such as Indo-Pacific Business Forum hosted and sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency in partnership with Japan or through minilaterals like the Quad in a ‘Quad-Plus’ format. Washington’s current level of economic engagement with IOR member countries is low compared to China, which can be improved by facilitating and encouraging their participation in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity.
Align US Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy With Indo-Pacific Strategy
Although the U.S. strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa mentions the need to “integrate African states in Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific forum,” the State-US Aid Joint Regional Strategy does not mention Indian Ocean, highlighting the challenge of coordination across government agencies. President Biden’s ‘Prosper Africa Build Together’ initiative can help address this challenge as it brings together 17 government agencies to direct U.S. investments in Africa. Strategic investments under this initiative in supporting Africa’s marine economic development, especially maritime domain awareness, address the immediate challenges of coastal African countries. Additionally, it reinforces Washington’s narrative of the Indo-Pacific being centered on development and economic partnerships geared towards protecting a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Create Institutional Links With India to Coordinate Policies in the Indian Ocean
Washington and New Delhi are taking concerted steps to ensure cross-agency and departmental coordination to cover the vast geographical expanse of the Indo-Pacific effectively. The Biden administration has appointed a Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs in the National Security Council, as well as the appointment of Quad coordinator at the State Department under the directive of the Secretary of State.37 In 2019, the Ministry of External Affairs established a new division for the Indo-Pacific, which integrates the Indian Ocean Region with ASEAN, while the Oceania division covers the Pacific Island Countries along with Australia and New Zealand. More recently, New Delhi appointed a Maritime Security Coordinator reporting directly to the National Security Advisor, which is mandated to ensure better coordination between the different authorities working on maritime security and civil issues.38 Institutionalizing an annual structured engagement between the Maritime Security Coordinators from each side can lead their respective delegations to the current India-US maritime security dialogue supporting Indian Ocean littorals with the current focus on “regional maritime security issues.”39
Increase Coordination and Burden Sharing Between Indian and US Coast Guards Over Operations in South Asia Sub-region of the Indian Ocean
To alleviate India’s possible “backyard anxieties”40 over an active U.S. naval presence in South Asia,41 the two countries can coordinate coast guard activities for operation in third-party countries in South Asia. In addition to a US Coast Guard presence appearing “less threatening”42 from New Delhi’s perspective, such coordination has the advantage of Washington avoiding duplicating assistance, which the Indian Coast Guard is already providing to these countries. Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy already identifies expanding “U.S. Coast Guard presence and cooperation in Southeast and South Asia” as a part of its action plan. Coordinated action will send a strong message about Washington and New Delhi’s partnership as like-minded Indo-Pacific partners committed to preserving a rules-based order in the region with the added advantage of burden sharing. It can take the form of India focusing on training the South Asian Coast Guard’s and sharing intelligence and the United States providing equipment to the regional coast guard, as it did with Sri Lanka43 and Bangladesh.44 Regular and institutionalized engagement between U.S. and Indian Coast Guards addressing issues of maritime safety, maritime security, and marine environment protection will also allow both sides to learn from each other’s best practices and strengthen the civil maritime Indo-Pacific security community.
Joint Statement issued at conclusion of the 6th Canada-India Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment
Canada and India held the sixth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment (MDTI) in Ottawa on May 8, 2023, co-chaired by the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, Government of Canada and Shri Piyush Goyal, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles, Government of India. The Ministers emphasised the solid foundation of the trade and economic relationship between Canada and India and recognized the significant opportunity to deepen bilateral ties and economic partnership.
The Ministers touched on the important discussions taking place at the various meetings of the G-20 being held in India this year under the Indian Presidency. In this context, Minister Ng noted India’s role as a global economy of the future and congratulated the Government of India and the Indian business organizations on the successes enjoyed so far at the G-20 events in India. She expressed her support for India as G20 Chair, and the priorities pursued by India in the G20 Trade and Investment Working Group. Minister Ng indicated that she is looking forward to participating in the upcoming G-20 Trade and Investment Ministerial meeting in India scheduled to take place in August 2023.
In recognition of the critical importance of the Indo-Pacific region for Canada’s prosperity, security, and its capacity to address environmental challenges, Minister Ng noted the rolling out of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and noted India’s importance in the region.
The Ministers noted the resilience of bilateral trade in 2022 following the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine. Canada-India bilateral trade in goods reached nearly C$12 billion in 2022, a substantial 57% increase over the previous year. The Ministers also underlined the contribution of the services sector in furthering the bilateral relationship and noted the significant potential for increasing bilateral services trade which stood at C$8.9 billion in 2022. Ministers recognized the significant growth of two-way investments and their contribution to deepening economic and trade ties, appreciative of the improvements made by both countries to facilitate business growth and attract investment.
The Ministers noted that the trade-related strengths of Canada and India are complementary and real potential exists for trade in both goods and services to expand significantly in both traditional and emerging sectors. With that goal in mind, the Ministers called for boosting the commercial ties between the two countries through enhanced cooperation and by forging partnerships to take advantage of the complementarities in such sectors as agricultural goods, chemicals, green technologies, infrastructure, automotive, clean energy, electronics, and minerals and metals. The Ministers further asked their officials to discuss trade remedy issues of bilateral importance on a regular basis.
The Ministers emphasized the key institutional role that the MDTI can play to promote bilateral trade and investment ties and to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries. Recognising the need for a comprehensive trade agreement to create vast new opportunities for boosting trade and investment flows between Canada and India, in 2022 the Ministers formally re-launched the India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations. In pursuit of that goal, negotiations towards an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), as a transitional step towards the CEPA, have been underway and several rounds of discussions have already taken place. The EPTA would cover, among others, high level commitments in goods, services, investment, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and dispute settlement, and may also cover other areas where mutual agreement is reached.
The two sides also agreed to explore enhanced cooperation through measures such as coordinated investment promotion, information exchange and mutual support between the two parties in near future. This cooperation between Canada and India will be finalized by way of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) preferably in Fall 2023.
The Ministers noted that global supply chains remain under the threat of disruption from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine. In this context, they discussed the continued importance of working together to promote the international rules-based order and supply chain resiliency in critical sectors. They emphasised enhancing cooperation in sectors such as clean technologies for infrastructure development, critical minerals, electric vehicles and batteries, renewable energy/hydrogen, and AI.
Recognising the importance of critical minerals for future economy and green economy, the Ministers agreed on the importance of government to government coordination to promote critical mineral supply chain resiliency. Ministers also agreed to explore options for business to business engagement on critical minerals between the two countries, and have committed to an annual dialogue between the appropriate points of contact at the officials level on the margins of the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference in Toronto to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Both sides discussed the potential for strengthening the cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation in priority areas by building on the ongoing work in the Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC) and seeking enhanced collaboration in the areas of start-ups and innovation partnerships. The Ministers agreed that there is significant potential to strengthen such cooperation and to enhance collaboration between their research and business communities in support of a sustainable economic recovery and the prosperity and wellbeing of their citizens.
The Ministers recognised the value of further deepening the Canada-India commercial relationship through initiatives such as organized fora for SMEs and women entrepreneurs.
Minister Mary Ng appreciated the visit of Indian business delegation at the sidelines of the 6th MDTI which has enhanced B2B engagement. To continue the momentum of B2B engagement, both Ministers look forward to the relaunch the Canada-India CEO Forum with renewed focus and a new set of priorities. The CEO Forum could be announced at a mutually-agreed early date. Further, Minister Mary Ng announced that she looks forward to leading a Team Canada trade mission to India in October 2023 which was welcomed by Minister Goyal.
The Ministers noted the significant movement of professionals and skilled workers, students, and business travelers between the two countries, and its immense contribution to enhancing the bilateral economic partnership and, in this context, noted the desire for enhanced discussions in the area of migration and mobility. Both sides agreed to continue to discuss ways to deepen and strengthen the bilateral innovation ecosystem through an appropriate mechanism to be determined. In addition, in accordance with Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, further investments will be made to support industrial research and development partnerships.
In line with the announcement made in the National Education Policy 2020 of India for facilitating foreign universities and educational institutions, India also invited top Canadian Universities to set up their campuses in India.
The Ministers noted that India and Canada have agreed to an expanded air services agreement in 2022 which enhances people to people ties through enhanced commercial flights by carriers of both countries.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organization and concurred to work together to further strengthen it.
The Ministers agreed to remain engaged to provide sustained momentum including having an annual work plan which is reported on a regular basis to build linkages and strengthen cooperation across sectors to harness the full potential of the trade and investment relationship between India and Canada.