Atlantic route to boost India-Canada trade: minister

June 17th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, June 17 (IANS) Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay has made a strong pitch for routing India-Canada trade via the Atlantic Gateway on its east coast as it offered deep, ice-free ports for large cargo. MacKay, while speaking at the ‘India Calling 2008: India-Canada Business Partnership Summit’ here Monday, said bilateral trade between the two countries would grow higher through the Atlantic route as it was the quickest and cost-effective and offered best ports for mega ships.

Currently pegged at $3.7 billion, the two-way trade between India and Canada is expected to touch the $10-billion mark by 2010. But India ranks only 16th on Canada’s list of trading partners.

To push that ranking higher, MacKay said, the Atlantic Gateway would allow India to quickly tap into the North American market.

For mega ships, this route has become the most direct shipping path to North America from points in India and South Asia, the minister said.

Since India was booming and set to become the seventh largest economy by 2020, it offered huge business opportunities for a trading nation like Canada where trade accounted for 45 percent of its GDP, he said.

“Canadian companies are tapping into global supply chains that increasingly include India. Our trade mission in New Delhi is Canada’s largest in the world,” MacKay noted.

The minister added that he was struck by the business opportunities India offered for Canadians during his trip to India in February.

“In fact, when we landed there, someone asked me in Delhi: What took you so long? Why didn’t you come sooner?” MacKay said, adding that he found that true when he saw India’s extraordinary economic growth during his trip.

Recalling his visit to the Mumbai port, he said there were ships waiting to unload as far as the eye could see. “I was told that this was not even the biggest port in the country.”

Indian business and political leaders were very receptive when he outlined “our vision for the Atlantic Gateway - and the economic potential it represents for both our countries”, said MacKay, who is also minister for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Indian High Commissioner R.L. Narayan said India was “bullish” on its relations with Canada.

The two countries have signed accords on science and technology cooperation and investment protection, and were working on concluding a free trade agreement. They have also agreed to set up a bio-nano institute for cooperating on developing the technology of the future, he said.

Narayan added that Indian companies have made significant investment in Canada and India was expecting similar investments from Canadian companies.

Indian Consul General Satish Mehta said India was on the cusp of historic economic development. He said India changed the rules of the game when it won its freedom in 1947, and it has rewritten the rules now while pursuing its economic development.

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