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International Trade Minister Ed Fast Concludes Trade Mission to India

During seven-day visit, Minister advocates for deeper bilateral trade and investment ties, makes progress on trade and investment agreements, highlights capabilities and expertise of Canadian companies in India, and encourages greater cooperation between Canadian and Indian businesses

(No. 338 - November 9, 2011 - 1:40 p.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up a week-long trade mission to India by delivering a keynote address to Indian and Canadian business leaders and by personally welcoming a shipment of high-quality agricultural products arriving from Canada to Mumbai Port.

During his seven-day, four-city visit to Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Mumbai, Minister Fast advocated for closer economic ties between the two countries and promoted Canadian expertise in a focused set of key sectors, including agriculture and agri-food, energy and natural resources, infrastructure, information and communications technology, education and manufacturing.

“As Canada’s trade minister, I can say that strengthening the Canada-India partnership is one of my top priorities,” Minister Fast told Canadian and Indian business leaders. “Throughout my week-long trade mission to this country, I have become more convinced than ever that an exciting future awaits both our countries—a future based on deeper trade and investments ties.”

On the final day of his trade mission, Minister Fast visited Mumbai Port to watch the tanker Ocean Crown, newly arrived from Vancouver, unload its cargo of Saskatchewan chickpeas.

“Seeing first-hand the demand here in India for Canadian products, such as our high-quality agricultural goods, demonstrates clearly how Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway is connecting Canada to high-growth markets and is helping to secure jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians,” said Minister Fast. “We will continue to respond to the demand for Canadian expertise and exports in high-growth Asian markets to ensure that as these markets grow, so too do the jobs and opportunities for Canadian workers and companies at home.”

While in Delhi, Minister Fast took part in the second annual ministerial dialogue with India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma. The two ministers share a commitment to completing a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement as soon as possible, a pact that will boost two-way investment by giving both Canadian and Indian companies the predictability, stability and protection they need to expand their operations in each other’s markets.

The two ministers also announced that the third round of negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between Canada and India would take place December 13, 14 and 15 in Delhi, with further rounds taking place at regular intervals thereafter (see: Canada’s International Trade Minister Ed Fast Holds Second Annual Dialogue with India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma). The Canada-India joint study report, issued in September 2010, concluded that a trade agreement could help boost the economies of both countries by at least $6 billion, creating jobs and prosperity for hard-working Canadians and Indians alike.

“In my meetings with Minister Sharma, we agreed that a Canada-India trade agreement would benefit both our countries and take our partnership to the next level. We have now agreed to an ambitious timetable that will aim for negotiations to be concluded in 2013.”

Also while in Delhi, Minister Fast discussed a range of bilateral issues during meetings with other key government ministers, including India’s ministers for Human Resources Development, Finance, Communications and Information Technology, and Overseas Indian Affairs and Civil Aviation (see: International Trade Minister Ed Fast Strengthens Ties with India).

He also witnessed first-hand how Canada’s reputation for excellence in education is helping to strengthen people-to-people ties between the two countries, with a visit to a new office of the International Language Schools of Canada. He also witnessed the signing of agreements between Carleton University and TERI and Symbiosis International universities in India (see: International Trade Minister Ed Fast Highlights Educational Ties Between Canada and India).

In Pune and Ahmedabad, Minister Fast visited a number of Canadian companies with operations in India, including McCain Foods, Valiant Corporation, Magna International and Bombardier Inc. (see: Canadian Excellence and Expertise Benefit Both Canada and India, International Trade Minister Ed Fast Applauds Canadian Companies Expanding into High-Growth India and Minister Fast Visits Canadian Automotive Company in India) to discuss ways the Government of Canada can help them expand their operations in this high-growth market. He also promoted the capabilities and expertise of these companies, and emphasized how closer cooperation between Canadian and Indian businesses will help ensure India’s continued growth in a number of vital sectors, including the auto sector, high-value manufacturing and engineering services.

“Today you can find Canadian products, services and expertise in a variety of sectors at work across the Indian marketplace,” added Minister Fast. “Canadian companies, investors and innovators have carved out a deep presence here. The Canadian government is helping to facilitate these trade and investment ties by encouraging more Canadian companies to look to the opportunities available in India. At the same time, I know that success in our continued efforts to share Canada’s world-class expertise and capabilities across many sectors in India will assist in increasing its economy and help its growing middle class by providing the products and services it needs.”

Minister Fast concluded his trade mission in India’s financial capital of Mumbai, where he encouraged Indian business leaders to invest in Canada, noting that Forbes magazine recently ranked Canada as the best place to do business in the world. In meetings with executives at Tata Motors Ltd. and at Aditya Birla Group, two of the largest Indian investors in Canada, and in a keynote address to members of the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber and EEPC India (formerly the Engineering Export Promotion Council), Minister Fast pointed to Canada’s many advantages as an investment destination.

“From our low taxes and sound banking system to our strong fiscal outlook, top-notch workforce, and unwavering commitment to free and open trade and investment, I encourage Indian investors to continue to look to Canada as a businesses and investment destination,” said Minister Fast.

India is one of the highest-growth markets in the world, with an economy that has grown an average of 8.2 percent annually over the past five years, and it is fast becoming one of the most important and influential economies in the world. According to McKinsey Global Institute, nearly half of India’s households will be middle class by 2030.

For more information on Minister Fast’s visit to India, please visit: Trade Mission to India.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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