CEPA Negotiations to be Completed by 2013
By A Correspondent
Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) launched its multicity, multi-sector trade mission to India on October 15. With nearly 200 guests in attendance, the India Mission 2013 launch was a stupendous success.
The guests included eminent members of the community from business, professional and political circles. Consul General Preeti Saran and Senator Dr. Asha Seth were the guests of honour for the evening, and Don Stephenson, Canada’s Chief Trade Negotiator for the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India was the keynote speaker.
In his Presidential address, Naval Bajaj, said, “Canada and India are committed to creating strong and lasting bonds. The series of ministerial visits from both sides during the last three months has heightened everyone’s expectations about the scope and extent of our bilateral relationship. With the expected Prime Ministerial visit in November, we are looking at an unprecedented scale of cooperation between Canada and India.”
Bajaj also said that in view of the burgeoning economic relations between the two countries, ICCC has decided to expand the scope of its annual visit to India during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations in January.
“The main objective of the mission is to create opportunities for our delegates to expand their business and develop competencies to turn into global entities. The highlight of our mission will be the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Kochi and Vibrant Gujarat in Gandhinagar,” he said.
Mike Mehta, ICCC’s Director of Business Development, made a presentation on the forthcoming mission. The salient features of the mission are:
Duration: 15 days
Dates: 02-January, 2013 to 16 January, 2013
Cities on the itinerary:
Mumbai (03-01-13 to 06-01-13), Bangalore (06-01-13 to 07-01-13), Kochi (07-01-13 to 09-01-13), Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar (10-01-13 to 13-01-13) and Delhi (13-01-13 to 16-01-13).
Cost: $6,900 for the entire trip.
The cost includes international airfare, stay in 5 star hotels in all cities, meals, local transportation, domestic airfare, registration to PBD-India and Vibrant Gujarat.
The key highlights of the mission are over 30 B2B meetings, workshops, interactive sessions, meetings with decision makers, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials and representatives of chambers of commerce, and industry associations.
Mehta also clarified that it may be possible for delegates to join the mission on the cities of their choice, and the ICCC would be able to provide a pro-rata cost structure based on the delegate’s number of cities.
Lauding the ICCC for persistently engaging the governments both in India and in Canada on fostering trade, Don Stephenson in his keynote address said, “What ICCC is doing is important because governments can only define the parameters of trade, finally it is businesses who trade and people who invest.”
He informed the audience that Canada is committed to enhancing economic relations with India and is focussed upon signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by 2013. Stephenson noted that India is an important market for Canada because of its present size and future potential.
The CEPA negotiations focus on goods and services, and have reached a stage where both sides have explained their positions to each other exhaustively, and now the process of agreement will begin.
He observed that several issues had been highlighted during the negotiations, including business relationships, business culture, regulations, laws, variability in the market place and the issue of quality. Under the merchandise, the negotiations are about tariffs, technical standards, process for residing diplomats, customs, procedures and under the services sector it will cover business culture, skills, cross border services, tourism, investment, temporary entry of specialized staff.
Mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, in a communique, which was read at the reception, said, “I commend the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce for playing a vital role in promoting opportunities of trade and economic cooperation between India and Canada. Developing and maintaining strong links is an essential part of creating a prosperous and healthy future for our respective communities. I am confident that the 2013 India Trade Mission, departing in less than 90 days, will provide all participants with positive opportunities to work with local chambers of commerce and industry associations, while strengthening relations and promoting joint ventures and investment opportunities.”
Preeti Saran, Consul General of India in Toronto, speaking on the occasion, said the annual celebration of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas coincides with the date Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa – January 7th 1915. She said the convention is a unique platform for the Indian Diaspora to come together and participate in India’s development.
The Consul General lauded ICCC’s role in taking an active lead in fostering bilateral ties between Canada and India, and engaging the Indian Diaspora in Canada in striving to create synergies between the two countries.
Sanjay Makkar, Vice President and Director, Affinity Programs, introduced the evening, and Nita Shastri, Co-Chair, ICCC’s Business Development Committee, gave the vote of thanks.