Insights 2016

R. K. Perindia: India Canada relations: Consolidation and expansion

India-Canada bilateral relations have seen a transformation in recent years underpinned by shared values of democracy, pluralism, expanding economic engagement, regular high level interactions and long-standing people-to-people ties.

Canada is home to over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIO).The first Indian migration to Canada was in 1897 on the West coast of Canada with the arrival of lumber workers and laborers from Punjab for railway construction. Today almost 90% of the community lives in metropolitan areas in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and other major cities like Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Waterloo and Halifax. Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has the largest Indian community estimated at around 650,000 followed by Vancouver at around 300,000. It is estimated that two-thirds of Indo-Canadians are Punjabi speaking, followed by those who speak Gujarati.

Many Indo-Canadians hold key positions in business enterprises, public service and other professions. The Diaspora is also well represented in federal Parliament and provincial legislatures. In the present House of Commons (elections held on 19 October 2015), there are 19 MPs of Indian origin (up from 9). Four PIOs now hold Cabinet berths (up from two of Ministers of State in the last Cabinet)

Prime Minister of India, Hon’ble Narendra Modi paid a standalone bilateral visit to Canada from 14-16 April 2015, after a gap of 42 years, covering Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. He held extensive discussions with Canada's political, business and academic leaders and also addressed some 10,000 PIOs & friends of India, at Toronto on 15th April. He interalia called on Governor General Johnston, held talks with Prime Minister Harper and had a good exchange of views with (then) leader of Liberal Party Justin Trudeau. During the visit, the two sides agreed to elevate the bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.

Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne led an 8-day trade mission to India from January 27th to February 6th 2016 covering Delhi, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Agra. Delegation members included Cabinet Ministers, Members of Provincial Parliament, government officials and over 50 businessmen.  Premier of Prince Edward Island Wade MacLauchlan also joined the trade mission.  On 3rd February both Premiers called on Prime Minister Modi.

They also had fruitful meetings with the Ministers for Commerce and Urban Development, Chief Ministers of Haryana and Maharashtra, Deputy CM of Delhi and Punjab, as well as Tata’s CEO Mr. Cyrus Mistry and Mr. Anand Mahindra of Mahindra Group, among others. A total of 65 Agreements were signed in the areas of infrastructure, education, ICT, skill development, agriculture, sustainable development, and clean energy, worth C$240 million and 5 MOU’s were signed with the states of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.

Trade and Economy

The two-way trade has increased from C$ 5.15 billion in 2011 to C$ 8.26 billion in 2015, but does not reflect the true potential. India accounts for only 0.8% of Canada's global trade.

Major items of India exports to Canada include edible vegetables; pearls, precious stones and jewellery; fertilizers; ores, slag and ash; paper and paperboard articles.

Major items which India imports from Canada include boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; mineral fuels, mineral oils; pearls, precious stones and jewellery; organic chemicals and woven clothing and articles of apparel.

The cumulative Indian FDI, as per Statistics Canada in 2015 was C$3,100 million as against Canadian FDI of C$ 934 million in India. Indian companies have invested especially in the IT, software, steel and natural resources sectors. Substantial operations in Canada include Aditya Birla Group, Essar Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel Minerals Canada, Tech Mahindra, WIPRO, Infosys Technology, Jubilant Life Sciences, Abellon Energy Inc, IFFCO and Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Limited (GSFC).Two Banks, State Bank of India and ICICI, have seven and nine branches respectively in Canada.

R.K. Perindia is the Consul (Commerce), Consulate General of India in Toronto

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