Positive Impact Expected for Indo-Canadian Relations
India and Canada have a long history of bilateral relations that have strengthened in recent years. A historic three-day visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015, led to then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, referring to Canada and India as “natural partners” in a new global economy. The expectation is now on newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to carry on the mantle of leadership in issues of trade, commerce and social matters.
Canada’s Global Market Action Plan has identified India as a key foreign market. The nation’s priority for engagement in India is centered on growing trade between the two countries, particularly by becoming a reliable partner for India’s source of energy and food. India is Canada’s largest trading partner in South Asia, highlighting the significance of the relationship. 1 The general trajectory of trade activity between the two countries has been upward over the last decade with imports into Canada from India rising from US $1.8 billion in 2005 to US $3.3 billion in 2014. 2 On the flipside, Canadian exports to India have shot up from US $1.1 billion in 2005 to US $3.2 billion last as of year, an almost 200 percent increase. 2 With India currently growing at the pace of around 7 percent, there is room for even further strengthening of trade activity and relations.
Opportunities for new commerce deals abound, particularly in the energy sector. Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp. is front-and-center to head up a deal that could resume uranium exports to India following a 40-year ban. Referring to the Canada-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which was ratified in September 2013, Elliot Tepper, a South Asian studies professor at Carleton University notes that, “Relations have slowly climbed back up to the point where we [Canada] have a nuclear agreement [with India].” Continuing, he thinks that, “Mr. Modi will be looking for signed contract for Canada to be a [long-term] supplier of uranium, as India desperately needs energy as it expands, and wants to rely more on nuclear power.” In the meantime, Canadian oil and natural gas remain useful resources to India.3
Finally, a burgeoning Indian diaspora in Canada makes the two nations inextricably linked. There are approximately 1.2 million Indians living in Canada, India is also Canada’s second-largest source of foreign students.1 The opportunity is present for the new Liberal Party to promote Canada as a valued destination for young Indians and partner with India in areas of education and technological development. Several other initiatives are also in place, one of note include the Canada-India Forum for Environmental Collaboration which has the goal of increasing technology and knowledge exchange on environmental issues. Mr. Trudeau has openly voiced his desire to fight climate change and he can look to achieve this with India as a close partner.
Prior to being elected, Mr. Trudeau spoke of his goal to maintain strong ties with India, “I was honoured to have met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just a few months ago, where I reiterated my view that we must continue to strengthen and expand the economic and cultural links between our two countries. If elected, a Liberal government will preserve and grow our bilateral trade relationship.” Following the victory, Narendra Modi was among several country figureheads to congratulate Mr. Trudeau saying, “We [India] attach high priority to close ties with Canada. We share a strong bond of democracy and inclusiveness enriched by a vibrant Indian diaspora.” This welcoming endorsement, coupled with Trudeau’s impressive Bhangra skills showcased back in 2012 bodes well for fruitful relations between the two countries.
1 Government of Canada, India Market Access Plan 2015 – 2017.
2 Statistics Canada.
3 CBCNews, Narendra Modi visit: Why India Matters to Canada.