Address by Minister Van Loan at Inaugural Session of Negotiations Toward a Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

No. 2010/90 - New Delhi, India - November 15, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a pleasure to be here in New Delhi today as we open a new chapter in Canada’s partnership with India.

I appreciate this opportunity to meet directly with negotiators and officials to underscore Canada’s commitment as we launch these negotiations, which were formally announced just days ago by our two prime ministers [Stephen Harper and Manmohan Singh] in Seoul.

The joint study that [India’s Commerce and Industry] Minister [Anand] Sharma and I released in September lists the incredible benefits that a free trade agreement would bring to Canada and India.

These include an increase of 50 percent in our bilateral trade, along with significant GDP gains for both sides. Economic analysis conducted by our two countries for the joint study points to a boost of $6 billion to $15 billion for the Canadian economy.

And with the strong people-to-people ties between our countries—including the links maintained by the 1 million Canadians of Indian descent—I have no doubt that we will meet or exceed these projections.

It’s clear that these negotiations offer our countries a great opportunity to expand trade and grow our economies.

As Canada and India continue on the path to lasting economic recovery, we need the kinds of benefits that a free trade agreement would bring.

During the June G-20 Summit in Canada, Prime Minister Harper joined Prime Minister Singh to welcome the conclusion of a joint study on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between our countries.

And, as I mentioned earlier, in September, Minister Sharma joined me in Ottawa to publicly release the study’s findings.

Canadians have long called for closer ties to India, and this agreement would deliver them.

During our meeting in September, Minister Sharma and I also committed to setting up a business forum to ensure that we identify and maximize growth opportunities in our two economies.

The benefits run both ways.

Canada has a lot to offer India as a business partner:

  • an open and attractive free-enterprise environment, ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the best place to do business in the G-7 this year and over the next four years;
  • the strongest fiscal position in the G-7;
  • low corporate taxes, with the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G-7;
  • among the fastest rates of economic growth in the G-7 in 2010 and 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund;
  • a skilled workforce, with the highest proportion of post-secondary graduates among OECD countries;
  • a high quality of life;
  • a vibrant environment for innovation, with one of the most advantageous research and development tax incentive programs in the industrialized world; and
  • a strong commitment to good governance and the rule of law.

These are just some of the benefits of doing business with Canada.

Unlocking these benefits through free trade will require the energies of people in this room and many others in both countries.

It will also require a good deal of cooperation, especially as we address many different issues.

But I’m confident that, by working together, we can reach an outcome that matches our ambition.

That’s why it was important to me to be here personally, with Minister Sharma, to highlight Canada’s commitment to these negotiations.

Our two countries share a strong relationship—socially, politically and economically.

Over the years, Canadians and Indians have worked together to create a prosperous trade relationship that benefits both countries.

We have had much to celebrate in recent years:

  • a cooperation agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
  • an expansion of Canada’s network of trade commissioners in India;
  • our negotiation of a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement that, once concluded and ratified, will benefit investors in both countries; and
  • bilateral merchandise trade reaching close to $4.2 billion last year, an amount we hope to increase to $15 billion in the next five years.

Now it’s time to take the next step and reach a free trade agreement that will lead to prosperity and opportunity in Canada and India alike.

Let’s work together to create new opportunities and jobs for people in both countries through free trade.

Thank you.