India-Canada nuclear deal, free trade accord urged

December 11th, 2008 - 12:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Dec 11 (IANS) Business and government leaders from Canada and India Wednesday stressed the need for a free trade agreement, a civilian nuclear deal and deeper educational ties between the two countries.Speaking at the two-day conference `India Rising: Implications for Canadian Businesses and Public Policy,’ they also urged annual summit-level meetings between the two countries to deepen business, educational and political ties.

Making references to Canada’s decision to back India at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting recently and accord the South Asian giant a priority status, they said the process of broadening of bilateral relations should translate into increased trade and educational links between the two countries.

In fact, the current global meltdown could be used as an opportunity to introspect and forge a new partnership to deepen economic and educational ties, suggested Indian consul general Preeti Saran.

She said Ottawa can help New Delhi in meeting its galloping energy requirement as India imports 70 percent of its fuel requirements. A nuclear deal with Ottawa will help India meet its need for clean and renewal sources of energy, she added.

Canadian companies also have huge opportunities in India’s infrastructure development sector which needed more than $500 billion in the coming years, said Saran.

Another major area where Canada can make a big difference to India, she said, is higher education and innovation.

Since Canadian educational institutions have just 3,500 Indian students as compared 95,000 in the US and 47,000 in Australia, she said Canada has a big opportunity to help India in higher education and skill development.

Canadian chief trade commissioner Ken Sunquist said India was a priority nation for his government to increase in business and educational relationship.

The fact that Canada has the second largest mission in India after the US and it has decided to open more trade offices there, he said, shows the importance of India for his country.

Citing the science and technology agreement and the foreign investment and protection agreement (FIPA) signed between the two countries since 2005, he said these two accords will serve to deepen bilateral ties before any free trade agreement is signed.

He said India is the right partner and `India is our top priority’.

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