Canada's high commissioner to India Cameron MacKay on Friday said the bilateral trade between the two G20 economies—India and Canada—is a "seriously underperforming" economic relationship.
The two countries are negotiating an early progress trade agreement (EPTA) as a first step towards Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which will increase bilateral trade manifold, he noted.
"Both of our countries have...commercial relationship," Mackay said, addressing a Canada Indo-Pacific Conclave here organised by Indo-Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC).
"But for two countries like ours, two G20 economies… multi-trillion dollar economies... the bilateral commercial relationship is seriously underperforming, we should be doing much more.
"And that's why our two governments are negotiating an early progress trade agreement as a first step towards comprehensive economic partnership agreement, which will increase the bilateral trade manifold...," MacKay said.
India is a priority market for Canadian businesses and the extensive people-to-people and cultural connections bolster the friendship between our two countries, he added.
He said that there are 400,000 Gujaratis in Canada.
MacKay was accompanied by Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Government of Ontario, Canada. Ford is visiting India to engage with partners, promote the province of Ontario, and celebrate the Indian community in Ontario. During his visit, he will also attend the centennial celebrations of Pramukh Swami Maharaj in Ahmedabad.
"Ontario is home to 9,00,000 people of Indian origin who enrich our culture, strengthen our communities, schools and workplaces and contribute to every sector of the economy.
"I am travelling to India to meet with business, government and community leaders and visit places of cultural and religious significance, to further bolster Ontario-India relations while promoting our multicultural province as the best place in the world to live, learn and do business," Ford said.
Speaking at the event, ICBC CEO Nadira Hamid said, "With the upcoming G20 Summit in India later this year, ICBC is keen to showcase Canada as a critical partner in the development and economic growth of India. As the only Chamber in India dedicated to enhancing the bilateral relationship between India and Canada, ICBC will be actively promoting areas of mutual interest and benefit".
Last year, both India and Canada decided to relaunch the India-Canada Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations and agreed to consider an interim agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), which could bring early commercial gains to both sides.
Canada recently unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which can strengthen the growing relationship and people-to-people ties.