Closer Economic Ties with India Will Create Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians

Minister Ed Fast speaks at major Indian event in Toronto

(No. 156 - June 9, 2011 – 10:45 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today participated in a round table on business prospects between Canada and India, where he underscored the Harper government’s aim to complete free trade negotiations with India in 2013. The round table was the opening session at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Day of Overseas Indians) conference being held for the first time in Canada.

“The Government of Canada is committed to creating economic prosperity for Canadians by strengthening and increasing trade and investment with India,” said Minister Fast. “This Day of Overseas Indians conference provides a unique opportunity for the Indian diaspora to come together and discuss how to work to create the jobs and opportunities Canadians and Indians are looking for in the years to come.”

The two-day conference includes sessions on innovation, science and technology, and small and medium-sized enterprises. Participating in the business prospects round table with Minister Fast were Arun Maira, a member of the Planning Commission of India, and A. Didar Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

“Our leaders have set a clear goal: to increase our bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015,” said Minister Fast. “A key part of reaching that shared goal will be a free trade agreement, which stands to become an important building block in constructing a broader and deeper bilateral relationship.”

In November 2010, Canada and India launched the first round of negotiations toward a comprehensive economic partnership agreement. A recent Canada-India joint study estimated that a free trade agreement between the two countries has the potential to boost Canada’s economy by $6 billion-$15billion annually, benefiting Canadian businesses of all sizes and creating jobs and prosperity in every corner of the country.

The conference is part of a number of activities taking place across the country in 2011 to mark the Year of India in Canada, launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. These activities highlight India’s culture, traditions and diversity and celebrate the contributions of the Indian diaspora to Canadian society. About one million people of Indian descent call Canada home.

In 2010, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and India totalled $4.2 billion, an increase of 73percent since 2004. Canadian merchandise exports to India increased 142percent over this period, reaching nearly $2.1 billion in 2010. In 2010, two-way direct investment was more than $7 billion.

“With trade representing some 60 percent of Canada’s economy, deepening our relationship with key countries such as India is vital to our economic recovery and to the strengthening of the financial security of Canadians—now and into the future,” concluded Minister Fast.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Adam Taylor
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
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