The Free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Canada will help push bilateral trade to $15 billion in five years, a Canadian Minister said here on Thursday.

Bilateral trade was close to $4.2 billion last year, said Canadian Minister of International Trade Peter Van Loan.

“Both governments have set a target of increasing the mutual bilateral merchandise trade to $15 billion in the next five years. A free trade agreement will help us get there,” Mr. Van Loan told reporters during his visit to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

He said Canadian businesses and investors had long called for closer ties to the “Indian market place, which is one of the most exciting anywhere in the world.''

On November 16, Van Loan opened formal talks with Commerce Minister Anand Sharma on a strategic economic partnership between the two countries.

Announcing the Comprehensive Economic and Cooperation Agreement (CECA) , Mr. Sharma had said that as per a joint study group report, both countries would benefit from the CECA and the gains for Indian and Canada would be of the order of 39 to 62 per cent.

On the areas of business opportunities, Mr. Van Loan said, “Free trade between our countries would benefit many sectors, including infrastructure, high technology, aerospace and financial services. It will also benefit our workers, our businesses and our societies.”

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