Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Canada April 14-16 to discuss and agree on initiatives designed to improve the bilateral relationship between the two countries. By the end of the 3-day itinerary, Modi was hailing his visit a “success” and proclaiming the birth of a new partnership.
Modi and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper welcomed 16 new commercial agreements between Indian and Canadian companies. According to the Harper government’s statement, the commercial agreements have an aggregate value of more than $1.6bn CAD and cover several sectors including “aerospace and defence, education, energy, mining, infrastructure, sustainable technologies, and information and communications technology.”
The Canadian government hopes to benefit from the trade opportunities that are bound to arise from an economically vibrant India – Canada’s largest trading partner in South Asia. Modi’s visit comes at a time when the new Indian government is engaging in a series of internal market reforms and deregulation, principally designed to make India a more attractive place for foreign investment and trade.
With India’s economy expected to grow at 7.5% and bilateral merchandise trade of $6.3bn amassed between the two countries in 2014, India represents “exciting opportunities for Canadian businesses” according to the official Harper government statement. The Canadian government also highlighted the common traditions of democracy and pluralism shared by the two countries, as well as the large Indian diaspora community that exists in Canada.
Among the more notable deals signed was the one centred on uranium. On April 15 it was agreed that, beginning later this year, Canada would become the third country after Russia and Kazakhstan to supply India with uranium. Over a 5-year period, Cameco Corporation will sell 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium to India at an expected cost of $254 million USD, and will be monitored under the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The deal was approved, partially thanks to the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that was already in place.
Solar power was another major winner as a result of the visit. Canadian Solar announced that it will make a $70mn investment in a solar cell and module facility in India, while Ontario-based AMP Solar Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SUN Group to own and operate solar assets in India over the next three years, resulting in a $1bn investment in energy infrastructure in India.
Indian giant Tata, under its subsidiary Tata Consultancy Services Co-Innovation Network, announced that it would establish an innovation laboratory in Toronto which, at a total investment value of $100mn, will help in the commercialisation of new technologies. Also in the technology field, Azzimov Corporation, an alumnus of the Canadian Technology Accelerators initiative of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, signed a $50mn joint venture agreement with O4 Digital Media to create the first Indian online video shopping facility.
On the financial front, both fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) will open offices in Mumbai within a year. CPPIB manages in excess of $238bn of assets on behalf of 18 million Canadians.
In November, Air Canada will recommence its Toronto-Delhi direct route, which will be welcome news to the community of 1.2 million Indians who comprise one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world. The direct route will make it more convenient for both business and leisure personnel to travel between the two countries.
Modi also announced that India will begin to issue visas upon arrival, making it much easier for Canadians to travel to India.