Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT)

This week the committee resumed its study of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India on Monday, March 4, 2013. Due to a cancelled meeting on Wednesday, March 6, only two witnesses were heard this week. The main themes of the meeting included concerns with corruption within the Indian government and the Indian business sector, as well as contract enforcement in India.

On March 4, the committee heard witness testimony from the President of Pacific Exotic Food Inc, as well as an individual; both shared their thoughts on a CEPA with India. Gian Dhesi, President of Pacific Food Inc discussed India’s economic history and argued that India has effectively attracted traders for centuries due to their treatment of guests; in India, guests are treated as gods. Dhesi proceeded to discuss current and future economic opportunities for Canada with India given India’s growing middle class (267 million people, in contrast to Canada’s 34 million citizens). Following Jas Ghuman’s testimony, however, the benefits of signing a trade agreement were derailed and a conversation about challenges facing business people emerged.

The duration of the meeting dealt with the merit of a CEPA and its ability to alleviate concerns with corruption. The solution that witnesses suggested included centralized control of business management, and ensuring a commitment to contract enforcement. While both witnesses exclaimed concerns with a CEPA, they both supported signing as agreement in theory.

Following the witnesses’ testimony, committee business was held in camera; the Honourable Wayne Easter questioned the rationale behind moving into camera.  While in camera, it was agreed , among other things, that the committee commence a study of the benefits for Canada in joining the Pacific Alliance as a full member beginning 18 March 2013 . The committee agreed to invite the ambassadors of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia in Canada to appear before the committee as witnesses. The text of the decision can be found here.