India-Canada bilateral relations are underpinned by shared values of democracy, pluralism and expanding economic engagement. Canada is home to more than 1.2 million people of Indian origin, making up three per cent of its population. Highly educated and industrious Indo-Canadians are well integrated and serve as a strong bridge between the two nations.
Both countries have established institutional links to strengthen co-operation, trade and investment, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, railways, space, civil nuclear co-operation, energy, education and skills development, agriculture, science, technology, innovation, culture and people-to-people ties.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an ambitious agenda that will catapult India onto a new growth trajectory. In 2015, India emerged as the fastest-growing economy in the world with GDP growth of 7.6 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
Committed to minimum government and maximum governance, India’s government has made it easier to do business and created attractive avenues for foreign direct investments in almost all sectors. Modi has also launched flagship programs, including Digital India, Smart Cities and Clean India and has encouraged public-private partnerships.
These programs open up opportunities for Canadian companies. To ease movement for visitors, business people and investors, the government has simplified its 10-year visa procedures and has also introduced e-Tourist visa facilities.
India-Canada two-way trade has increased from $4.2 billion in 2010 to $6.4 billion in 2014 and, again, by 29 per cent to $8.2 billion in 2015. But this does not reflect our true potential. India accounts for just 0.7 per cent of Canada’s global trade; it exports $3.9 billion worth of goods to Canada and Canada sends $4.3 billion worth to India.
Major Indian exports to Canada include gems, jewelry, precious stones, pharmaceutical products, ready-made garments, textiles, organic chemicals, light engineering goods, iron and steel articles. Major exports from Canada to India include pulses, newsprint, wood pulp, asbestos, potash, iron scrap, copper, minerals and industrial chemicals. Canada is a key supplier of potash and pulses, such as lentils — indeed India is the largest importer of Canadian pulses. More than 30 per cent of India’s imported pulses and 25 per cent of India’s potash for use in fertilizers come from Canada.
Animal husbandry, dryland farming, food processing technologies, cold-chain management (a temperature-controlled supply chain for fresh and frozen agricultural products) and agricultural sustainability are priority areas for bilateral co-operation.
Reputable Indian companies have invested in Canada, especially in the sectors of information technology, steel and natural resources. Included among them are Aditya Birla Group, Essar Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel Minerals Canada, Tech Mahindra and Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (GSFC). State Bank of India and ICICI Bank have branches across Canada.
Similarly, Canadian companies are active in India’s sectors of power and energy equipment and services; oil and gas; environmental products and services; telecommunications and IT and financial services, including insurance. Those include SNC Lavalin, Bombardier, CAE Inc., CPPIB, Fairfax Financial, Brookfield, Sun Life Financial, Canpotex Limited, McCain Foods, Amdocs and Bank of Nova Scotia.
India and Canada are committed to finalizing the bilateral foreign investment promotion and protection agreement (BIPPA) and comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) to further strengthen relations. Our trade ministers met in Toronto in late September 2016 to discuss finalizing both agreements.
Canada is a reliable partner in India’s quest for energy security. We have established an energy dialogue whose three pillars are power, clean energy and innovation. Both sides are committed to investing in clean technology research and development and to stimulating private-sector investment in the sector. A third round of talks was held last autumn.
Education is another area of collaboration. More than 35,000 Indian students study in Canada. India and Canada also co-operate in space science, Earth observation, satellite launch services and ground support for space missions. Our IC-IMPACTS initiative brings together researchers, industry innovators, community leaders, government agencies and community organizations from across India and Canada.
Today, there’s a growing tendency for governments to look inward, but not India’s. Modi, during his visit to Ottawa in April 2015, said: “Today it is my deep belief that not only will we be present in each other’s thoughts, but also in our endeavours. We will work together.” It was Lester Pearson, who, after the Second World War, advocated for “participatory internationalism.” India is confident the current Canadian government will continue to hold high that Pearsonian spirit.
Arun Kumar Sahu is India’s deputy high commissioner. Reach him by email at email@example.com or by phone at (613) 744-3751.