India and Canada are ready to launch formal negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic- Partnership Agreement (CEPA), said Mr. Anand Sharma, Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry.
Canada and India has commissioned a joint study “to explore the possibilities, the potential and the dimensions,” Minister Sharma said.
“There has been enough reciprocity between the two countries to recognize the full potential of partnership,” he said. Canada-India relationship has elevated from “relationship to strategic partnership.”
CEPA, Mr. Jason Kenny, the federal Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, and Multiculturalism says, is a “form of tree trade.” He noted that Canada has massively upgraded links with India to promote trade. Canada had 8 trade offices in different cities and provinces of India. Business visas are being issued in as little as 24 hours. “There is 100 per cent acceptance rate” where businessmen of registered business have to travel to Canada frequently.
Although the global economic downturn has slowed the mutual trade between the two countries, the results from the first quarter of the year have been “very good,” Minister Sharma reported, pleased.
The Prime Ministers of the two countries have been given a mandate to trade ministers as well as senior officials to meet the task of increasing the Canada-India trade to $15 billion by 2015.
“I am optimistic that it is achievable,” Minister Sharma said. Some of the sectors mentioned by him for further trade are agriculture, high technology, innovations, education, and space technology.
The two governments have decided to expedite the process of launching the negotiations on CEPA between the two countries as the governmental procedures have already been completed.
He noted that the mergers and acquisitions of Indian companies have been “one of the biggest” at $8 million. Indian companies have $12 billion investments in Canada as compared to only $3 billion Canadian investment in India.
Given reciprocity of the partnership, could there be any possibility of visa-free travel.
Minister Kenny says “We can see the realistic exemption for the visa requirements from the Indian citizens in foreseeable future because there continue to be concerns. Canada has visa requirements with 145 countries.” He cited problems of visa overstays and people staying illegally in Canada, but on a more positive note, Minister Kenny said “we are providing much better service to Indian nationals coming to Canada.”
On Commonwealth Games:
The athletes and the officials will be welcomed, that they will be secure and they will return happy – Minister Sharma
“We hope that Indian hosts [of commonwealth games] will succeed in brining things together to have safe and successful games enjoyed by everyone” – Minister Jason Kenny
While a week ago BBC was running the headline “The Shame Games,” on unreadiness of Indian government to host the athletes and the officials of Commonwealth games, Minster Sharma quoted an ancient saying in India “the guest is like a god.”
He reassured “the world that the athletes and the officials will be welcomed, that they will be secure and they will return happy,” and a few pictures of gloom will be replaced by vibrant and joyous celebrations.
He admitted that “there have been shortcomings,” however he noted that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet has taken a firm action and those responsible will be held “accountable” by a democratic country.
Minister Sharma said that India has put together world-class infrastructure, stadiums and food courts. He pointed out that “India is the largest democracy in the commonwealth countries..and we’re transparent because we are a democracy.”
He cited that “we have a media that is aggressive and inquisitive..I would like to request the media to remember that with freedoms there are certain responsibilities and obligations.”
He said that a few dirty images are not reflective of what has gone into preparation of world games. And that the media has not reported on building of metros and flyovers. “It’s not a healthy trend,” Mr. Sharma said.
While international media may have been critical of India’s preparations of Commonwealth games, the federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism was as optimistic as Minister Sharma. He said that “we hope that Indian hosts [of commonwealth games] will succeed in brining things together to have safe and successful games enjoyed by everyone.”
He has been advised by Minister of Sports Gary Lunn that the Canadians still plan to go to India. Canadian athletes’ trip was postponed because some of the accommodation wasn’t ready. Canadian officials are following the developments with “some concerns,” but Minister Kenny is hopeful that everything will go smoothly at the end of the day.