TORONTO: Canada-India relations have never been as good they are right now, and it’s the right time to get into overdrive to enhance trade.
This was the consensus opinion of eminent speakers and panelists at the web program ‘Canada – India Trade by 2025 – Enabling Variety. Volume. Velocity.’ organized by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) on September 17.
Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade and Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Civil Aviation, and Housing and Urban Affairs were the main speakers at the program.
Following their interaction, the High Commissioners of Canada and India – Nadir Patel and Ajay Bisaria gave their perspective on enhancing bilateral trade. The program concluded with a scintillating panel discussion moderated by Ravi Seethapathy, former President of ICCC, an energy sector expert, and a corporate director; the panelists included Goldy Hyder, President, and CEO, Business Council of Canada; Vikram Khurana, Chair, Toronto Business Development Corporation; Mohit Singla, Chair, Trade Promotion Council of India; and Rupa Naik, Senior Director, Projects, World Trade Centre – Mumbai.
In her opening remarks, Minister Ng congratulated the ICCC for its tireless efforts to foster bilateral trade relations between Canada and India. “I laud the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce for the good work to promote trade and forge linkages in the small business sector in both Canada and India,” she said.
She emphasized that the overall ties between Canada and India have never been as good as they are at present. “I have had four meetings with Minister Piyush Goyal to discuss trade,” and a significant momentum has been built for cooperation.
Minister Ng said that while trade in traditional sectors such as pulp and paper and agri-food continues to grow, new sectors like clean energy, education, skills and training, urban infrastructure, and transportation are emerging quickly.
The Minister gave the example of an Ottawa-based company providing technical knowhow to Gujarat for low-cost wastewater treatment. Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry was originally slated to participate in the web program.
However, he was called to deal with an urgent matter in the Rajya Sabha, Indian Parliament’s Upper House, where he is the Deputy Leader.
In his place, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Civil Aviation, and Housing and Urban Affairs, participated. Minister Puri provided a panoramic view of the bilateral trade ties between Canada.
“We draw great strength from people to people relations,” Minister Puri said.
Minister Puri said the ICCC theme – ‘Canada – India Trade by 2025: Enabling Variety. Volume. Velocity’ – for the web program captured the entire scope of bilateral trade. He said India has pushed through significant economic reforms and liberalized investment norms in several key sectors such as pharmaceuticals and defense during the pandemic.
Record growth Nadir Patel, Canada’s High Commissioner to India, said the progress in Canada – India relations and especially in bilateral trade has been remarkable.
“We have to celebrate our successes and see where we have come from and where we have reached. Trade has hit a record each year of the last five years. The momentum was strong in 2020. The base we have built gives us strength.”
Ajay Bisaria, India’s High Commissioner to Canada, congratulated ICCC for organizing the program. Talking about the upward trajectory in bilateral trade and investments between the two countries, Mr. Bisaria said the present trends indicate that portfolio investment from Canada into India would reach $100 billion in the next five years.
Bisaria said the immediate opportunity to significantly enhance bilateral ties was in manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine.
“India has the capacity to become the world’s pharma base to produce the Covid-19 vaccine.” India is not just a pharmacy of the world, but also a vaccine manufacturer of the world with the capacity to manufacture over a billion doses. Following the speeches, Ravi Seethapathy, the former President of ICCC, moderated a panel discussion.
World Trade Centre – Mumbai’s Senior Director for Projects Rupa Naik, who was participating from Mumbai, India, said: “There is a dire need to enhance trade between the two nations and gain from our complementarities and competitive advantages.
The US and the EU recently struck a deal for reducing tariffs on certain products to improve market access between the two countries. India too should enter into such agreements to gain from trade.”
Toronto Business Development Corporation’s Chair Vikram Khurana emphasized the significance of enhanced investments from Canadian institutional investors – chiefly the pension funds – into India in recent times.
“Only in the last six months, during the height of the pandemic, Canadian pension funds have invested $5.5 billion in India.”
He added that companies such as Ivanhoe Cambridge are devising innovative investment tools that will transform investments in the real estate sector and enhance Canadian exposure in India in that sector.
Mr. Khurana said Canadian small business will also be positively impacted by this development because it will have the stardust effect, where small businesses follow big businesses into a new market.
Trade Promotion Council of India’s Chair, Mohit Singla pointed out that the untapped potential to enhance trade between Canada and India will materialize into exponential growth when trade and services are diversified.
Trade statistics have shown impressive growth in recent years. Business Council of Canada’s President and CEO, Goldy Hyder emphasized the need for trade agreements between Canada and India.
It is important for both the Canadian and the Indian establishments to sign the long-pending trade and investment agreements, Mr. Hyder said. He also said that such forums tend to emphasize investments in India, but Indian investments into Canada also MEDIA KIT have tremendous scope.