INTERVIEW| India a trusted & increasingly important partner of Canada, says envoy Mackay
He added that the trade and investment agreements between the two governments will open the doors to more business deals mutually beneficial to both countries.
Published: 22nd July 2022 10:28 AM | Last Updated: 22nd July 2022 11:00 AM | A+A A-
BENGALURU: India and Canada have long-standing bilateral relations, with Canada having the largest Indian diaspora in the world on a per capita basis. The trade and investment negotiations between the two countries, which made no progress for almost a decade, are now beginning to thaw with a joint statement released by them in March this year stating that they are looking to finalise a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) or an early progress trade agreement (EPTA).
India and Canada launched negotiations towards CEPA in 2010. However, no headway was made even after more than a decade of talks.
“Canada is looking forward to deepening our ties with trusted partners like India. We have re-launched trade and investment negotiations after more than 10 years of fruitless talks. The trade ministers from both sides met in March this year and since then, we have made more progress than in the previous 10 years. With political will and creativity on the part of the negotiators we can get a deal,” the Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron Mackay told The New Indian Express in an exclusive interview during his visit to Bengaluru this week.
He added that the trade and investment agreements between the two governments will open the doors to more business deals mutually beneficial to both countries. “The Can$100b partnership (including bilateral merchandise, services and investment trade) should and could be much bigger if we can liberalise trade and investment. We would like to see more business deals between our Canadian and Indian businesses. The third round of negotiations is making progress but it will take more time,” he said.
With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting supply chains across the globe in an unprecedented way businesses around the world are now looking at making supply chains more resilient.
“India has always been an important partner for Canada, and now, is an increasingly important partner for us. India is Canada’s largest source country across every category of immigration including over 217,000 students. We are processing thousands of visa applications for Indians every week and we are still having trouble keeping up the pace. We ask for patience from our Indian clients. We are working very hard to clear the backlog in the coming months,” said Mackay.
When asked about Canada’s stand on the Khalistan issue, which has been the bone of contention between the two countries, the High Commissioner said that Canada “supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. Sometimes, between two countries the size of India and Canada, there can be irritants. It is important that we manage these irritants respectfully and diplomatically and that is what we are doing. Our Prime Ministers had a very friendly and productive discussion on the sidelines of the G7 Summit at Schloss Elmau in Germany. Our foreign ministers have developed a good relationship and our trade and commerce ministers have an excellent relationship. I am optimistic about our future,” added the diplomat.
He also spoke about Canada’s partnership with India on climate change. “We have an important partnership to fight climate change. The two big areas of cooperation are research and development in science and technology and the development of clean energy."
"Our two environment ministries have signed an MoU. Both agree that Canada and India can do more together in fighting climate change. Out of the Can$70b portfolio investments in India, several billion Can$ investments are in renewable energy and clean technology. We cooperate closely on polar research. Later this year, Indian polar scientists will visit the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), where we have leading polar researchers,” added Mackay.
On Canada’s absence in the Indo-Pacific region, the High Commissioner said that his country, which has always been an Asia Pacific nation, now considers itself as the Indo-Pacific region. “We have great interest in the region and look forward to deepening our Indo-Pacific relations,” he said.
Canada is now looking south of Vindhyas for greater trade and business opportunities in information & communications technology (ICT), aerospace, climate change, environment, electric vehicles, life sciences etc., in Bengaluru. Mackay met the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and called it a productive meeting. “The Canadian companies and Canadian controlled companies in Bengaluru employ around six lakh people. We would like to see those numbers and trade and business opportunities multiply multifold,” he said.
Mackay said Bengaluru lives up to its global reputation of being the tech hub of India and high quality of life. “In all my meetings here, Bengaluru has lived up to its reputation and more. I love Bengaluru and I understand why everyone loves the city. There is a tremendous opportunity for a deeper economic relationship between South India and Canada and we want to take that forward,” said Mackay.