Address by Minister Van Loan at Bombay Stock Exchange

No. 2010/91 - Mumbai, India - November 18, 2010

Check Against Delivery

It’s a pleasure to be here at the historic Bombay Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in Asia. And it’s a special pleasure to be here this week, as Canada and India open a new chapter in our trade relationship.

This week we launched negotiations toward a free trade agreement between our countries.

I can tell you that Canadians are very excited about the prospect of a free trade agreement with India. Canadian businesses and investors have long called for closer ties to the Indian marketplace, which is,  without a doubt, one of the most exciting anywhere in the world.

Our government is committed to strengthening ties with India.

The Canada-India relationship has already grown over the past several years, with bilateral merchandise trade reaching close to $4.2 billion last year.

With a free trade agreement, we could do even better.

Canada is a “business partner of choice.” Free trade between our countries would benefit many sectors, including infrastructure, high technology, aerospace and financial services.

In fact, Canadian companies are already developing infrastructure here in India. For example, in 2009 Bombardier Inc. opened a $41-million plant in Gujarat to produce metro coaches. And earlier this month, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. made a $36-million investment in the Hyderabad-Chennai expressway, working in collaboration with India’s KMC Construction Ltd.

To help create more successes like this, last year Canada opened three new trade offices in India, in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, giving this country our third-largest trade network abroad. This is another strong signal of Canada’s commitment to India.

We’re also proud of our agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and our negotiation of a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement that will benefit investors in both countries.

We’re proud of the strong people-to-people ties between our countries, including the links maintained by the one million Canadians of Indian descent.

And now, with these trade negotiations, we’re on the verge of further cementing these ties.

Prime ministers Stephen Harper and Manmohan Singh have set a mutual goal of increasing our annual bilateral merchandise trade to $15 billion in the next five years. A free trade agreement will help us get there.

The Canada-India joint study predicted a 50-percent boost to our bilateral trade and significant GDP gains for both sides.

An agreement would also give India’s entrepreneurs more access to the advantages that Canada offers investors:

  • 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.

A free trade agreement would benefit our workers, our businesses and our societies.

I look forward to working with our Indian partners to move these negotiations forward and create the jobs and prosperity Canadians and Indians are looking for in these challenging economic times.

Thank you.