A free trade agreement be twe en Indi a and Canada would be welcome news for Canadian pulse exporters as India is a major customer for the country’s peas and lentils, an official with Pulse Canada says.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced November 12 the start of negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership between India and Canada. A Canada-India joint study estimated that an agreement could increase GDP in each country by approximately $6 billion and increase two-way bilateral trade by 50 per cent, according to a press release from the prime minister’s office.
India is the largest customer for Canada’s pulse crops, particularly peas and lentils. Carl Potts, director of market development with Pulse Canada, said that in 2009 India purchased 1.5 million tonnes of Canadian pulses, for a total of $532 million. That accounted for about a quarter of all Canadian pulse exports.
“India is Canada’s largest market for pulses, and has been for the last number of years,” said Potts adding that Canada is also India’s largest supplier of pulses.
“We’re very pleased to see the government enter into free trade agreement negotiations with India, and we’re hopeful that that can strengthen the economic ties between the two countries and result in benefits for the Canadian pulse and special crop industry,” said Potts.
Currently Canada faces zero import duties for pulses moving to India, said Potts. However, without a free trade agreement in place, India could implement tariffs if they choose. “What a free trade agreement could potentially do, is secure the permanent elimination of import duties,” said Potts.
Another benefit of a free trade agreement would be the establishment of bilateral committees to help deal with any trade issues that arise. “India is a market where we’ve encountered trade irritants over the past number of years, so having better mechanisms to deal with those issues more quickly. . . would be something that would benefit our industry significantly,” said Potts.
Pulse Canada was not directly involved in getting the free trade talks started with India, but will now be soliciting the detailed views of its membership and will be discussing those views with the government in order to make sure any agreement is of the most benefit it can be to the pulse sector, said Potts.