No. 2010/65 - Toronto, Ontario - September 14, 2010
Check Against Delivery
I’m happy to be here with you to talk about the strong and growing relationship between Canada and India.
Our two countries share a close cultural, economic and political relationship that extends back many generations.
For more than three decades of our collective history, the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce has played a key role in strengthening the economic connections between our two countries.
Organizations like yours are great partners of our government as we look for ways to increase free trade and investment opportunities.
And our trade partnership with India is an exciting one—one that holds great promise for both countries as we continue on the path to lasting economic recovery.
As you know, the G-20 Summit was hosted here in Toronto in June, and economic recovery was very much the main topic of conversation.
During the Summit, world leaders agreed that cooperation is essential as the world works through these challenging economic times.
They agreed to several key actions:
Canada’s approach to economic recovery closely matches the goals the leaders set out. In fact, Canada is leading the way.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Canada is expected to be the only G-7 country to return to balanced budgets within the next five years.
And we’re taking steps to ensure that Canada emerges from the downturn stronger and in better fiscal shape than nearly every other industrialized country.
Canada continues to break down barriers to investment, fight protectionism and promote free trade. Our government is committed to seeking new free trade opportunities with nations around the world.
In 2009 and 2010, Canada unilaterally eliminated tariffs on a broad range of machinery and equipment, including manufacturing inputs. This step will position Canada as the first among its G-20 partners to become a tariff-free zone for industrial manufacturers and make Canada a more attractive place for investors.
New free trade agreements with Peru and the European Free Trade Association are now in force.
We signed the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement in May.
In June, we received Royal Assent to implement a free trade agreement with Colombia.
And we’ve introduced implementing legislation for a free trade agreement with Jordan.
We’re engaged in free trade negotiations with the Caribbean Community, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine and the Central America Four countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
And we are approaching the fifth round of negotiations toward a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union.
Through these initiatives, our government is creating opportunities for Canadian businesses, knowing they can compete with the best in the global marketplace.
Our government’s successful free trade agenda and the success of Canadian businesses abroad are both supported by our network of trade commissioners.
They are our eyes and ears in more than 150 cities around the world, helping Canadian businesses find new commercial opportunities in countries across the globe.
In India, our trade commissioners are promoting Canada’s economic interests and helping Canadian companies do business in the emerging Indian market.
Trade commissioners can be a valuable asset to your members, and I encourage you to learn more about the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service at the kiosk set up here this evening.
Our government is actively pursuing closer ties to India.
Last year, Canada opened three new trade offices in India—in Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.
This makes India the site of Canada’s third-largest trading network abroad, with a total of eight missions.
And our governments have conducted several high-level visits since 2006, including one by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.
While there, he and India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, announced the creation of a joint study group to explore the possibility of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.
This summer, the two leaders met in Toronto for the G-20 Summit, and Prime Minister Singh stayed after for a bilateral visit to continue building on the relationship.
They agreed to a range of activities and frameworks that will help us reach our shared goal of increasing bilateral trade to $15 billion annually in the next five years.
And they welcomed the conclusion of the joint study, which identified substantial potential economic gains that both countries could achieve through a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.
The prime ministers noted that the two governments would immediately initiate the process of obtaining approvals to begin negotiations, with the aim of having those approvals by the end of October.
Canadian businesses are excited about doing more business with India.
And we think that India could benefit from Canada’s many business advantages, too—advantages that include:
When it comes to creating a strong, world-leading economy, Canada is leading the way.
And we believe that a closer economic relationship with India could deliver commercial benefits to citizens on both sides.
At the same time, our government is committed to creating more investment opportunities in Canada and abroad.
Investment promotion goes hand-in-hand with trade in building a strong economy.
That’s why we are currently working to finalize a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with India that we believe will benefit Canadian and Indian investors by providing greater certainty for Canadian firms with existing investments in India.
It would also promote Canada as a destination for foreign investment, opening up markets for Indian corporations looking for new opportunities abroad.
In addition, we are collaborating in the science and technology sectors so that both our countries will benefit from the new knowledge and technologies that are helping drive economic growth.
And our government is currently on course to ratifying an agreement with India for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
We are looking to provide access for members of Canada’s nuclear industry to India’s expanding civilian nuclear market.
Canada-India relations are truly at a transformational stage.
But it is the people-to-people ties that strengthen our agreements and bring our two countries closer together, and that lead to greater economic prosperity and benefits for both countries.
Later this month, my counterpart from India, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, will visit Canada. While he is here, we will move forward on important trade and investment issues.
But trade and investment negotiations can’t be done by governments alone. They need the support and backing of groups like yours, with the knowledge of culture and business.
Indeed, your chamber has a key role to play as we move toward closer economic ties with India.