India and Canada on Monday agreed to work towards an early conclusion of a proposed bilateral free trade agreement, with New Delhi highlighting the importance of services under such a deal, an official statement said.
The proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) figured in the discussions between India's Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu and Canadian Minister for International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne at the 4th India-Canada Ministerial Dialogue on trade and investment here, a Commerce Ministry statement said.
"Both sides noted the exchange of wish lists on the services front. India reiterated that the architecture for services under the CEPA is a vital focus area and a response from Canada on positive elements has to be mutually beneficial," it said.
"The Canadian side assured that they will look into the issues concerned, including movement of natural persons and what kind of provisions could be built into the CEPA," it said.
India is keen to ensure easier movement of Indian skilled workers to Canada for short-term work.
The negotiations for the free trade agreement started in November 2010.
"The Ministers directed the chief negotiators to discuss and explore ways for early conclusion of the agreement," it added.
The statement said that India and Canada discussed the progress made under the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) and expressed hope for its early conclusion.
They also said that bilateral trade was "much below" its untapped potential. The bilateral merchandise trade in 2016-17 was worth $6.13 billion.