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First Person | November 2011

Financial services is a priority area for us and we are looking for sector

"I want to deepen the trade and investment relationship between the two countries. After our government was elected in 2006, we adopted a global commerce strategy with focus on some priority markets, including India. India, with a market of 1.2 billion consumers, represents a significant opportunity for Canada. India also can benefit from a deeper relationship with Canada.

Our respective Prime Ministers had committed last year to increase bilateral trade from $4.2 billion to $15 billion by 2015. That is ambitious. The current level of trade is modest when you compare India's population and Canada's natural resources and our expertise in areas including life sciences and information and communication technologies. Financial services is a priority area for us and we are looking for progress in terms of Canadian investment in India's infrastructure sector. We are in the throes of completing a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). India's business environment, regulatory and legal systems are unfamiliar. Many Canadian companies interested in doing business with India are still overly cautious because of some barriers to investment. FIPA will have a clear set of rules on making investments and on dispute settlement.

We can remove many trade and investment barriers if we complete FIPA and CEPA. These will provide the kind of assurance that our companies need in order to invest in each others' economies. The CEPA's focus is to enable India and Canada to take our trade relationship to a new level. It would be a mistake for me to presume what will be discussed and what directions those negotiations will take. We have negotiated a nuclear cooperation agreement, and as a last part, many administrative arrangements have to be put in place. There are some wrinkles that need to be ironed out. Canada needs to be satisfied that use of uranium will be done in a safe manner."

(As addressed during the recent seminar organised by EEPC in Mumbai)

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