India on a Fast Track to Finalize Trade Deals

Prime Minister Modi’s Eurotour . . .

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a power-packed trip to Europe, including visits to three countries, meetings with seven heads of government, and the release of several joint statements of co-operation. PM Modi’s discussions in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Paris emphasized green partnerships with a focus on renewable energy and sustainable growth opportunities. While the visits did not lead to signed agreements, they signalled that European countries recognize that they need to diversify their allies. The EU has begun formal discussions with India on co-operation in the Indo-Pacific. India’s abstinence from calling out Russia over the Ukraine war and its accelerated Russian oil imports remain a sore spot as European nations boycott Russian oil, amongst other sanctions, in response to the war.

Can the EU be an answer to India's defence needs?

In his last stop in Europe, PM Modi visited Paris and met with the newly re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders agreed to co-operate on advanced defence technology, specifically to explore opportunities for French investment in the Indian space and defence industries. The joint statement with France comes on the heels of the pledge by India and the United Kingdom to expand their defence and security partnerships. Such co-operation will help reduce India’s over-reliance on Russia for critical military equipment and technology. As critics note, the glaring lack of defence in discussions with the other European nations may also point to the overall weakness in the European economies’ defense strategies and dependence on NATO for security.

Canada-India moving forward on trade deal . . .

India’s determination to diversify its trade and investment portfolio is evident from its recent negotiations with the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Australia, Russia, and the Southern African Customs Union. Canada, not to be left behind, has also managed to re-launch the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations, following the fifth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade & Investment (MDTI) between Canada and India in March. At the MDTI, Minister Mary Ng and her Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, emphasized growing bilateral ties and stressed increasing their bilateral services trade, a crucial factor for India. Both sides have now agreed to consider an interim agreement or Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), before transitioning toward CEPA negotiations. The EPTA should be concluded by the end of the year.