Canadian PM calls for closer trade ties with India
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for greater economic ties between Canada and India at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Gurgaon on Wednesday.
Addressing world leaders Harper said he had agreed on an ambitious goal of tripling bilateral trade to USD 15 billion by 2015.
"I also believe we need to become closer partners, more quickly. With so much mutual interest, obvious synergy and cultural compatibility draws together. Greater momentum for a much closer, deeper partnership between Canada and India should be attainable. Prime Minister Singh and I have agreed on a goal of expanding bilateral trade to 15 billion dollars by 2015," he said.
"There have been no less than 22 visits from Canadian ministers since 2006. Our businesses are also increasingly engaged. Over 500 Canadian companies are here now, and hundreds more are making plans. The Canada-India CEO forum has also now been established and I would be remiss not to mention the remarkable partnership, the remarkable international partnership, of Canada and India at the summits of the G-20 since its inception," he added.
Harper also made note of the of the personal connections between the two countries, and the surge in number of people doing student exchanges.
"More than 23,000 Indian students study or conduct research in Canada. That is a one third increase in just one year and two and a half times more in just the past three years. I personally place great importance on these people to people contacts. They are and they will be a living bridge between our two great countries, a bridge of the increasing span and growing importance. In fact I am delighted to point out that there are no less than 8 members of the government in office in Canada, including two ministers, who trace their origins to India."
Harper urged India and Canada to complete foreign investment agreements and forge a path of mutual growth.
"It will take concerted efforts by both of our countries to reap all of the benefits that this relationship can yield. I acknowledge, ladies and gentlemen, that there has been progress, the social security agreement between us is finally done. So too at last is the administrative arrangement to complete our nuclear and co-operation agreement. Our foreign investment negotiations have come much of the way, we have to get serious about getting them over the finish line."
Harper also said that the establishment of a bilateral CEOs Forum, and the commitment to a structured dialogue at the Commerce Ministers level, would help to foster improved trade and economic interaction.