Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird held a teleconference with Canadian media last week as he concluded his first official visit to India:
“I was pleased to visit India at the invitation of S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs. In New Delhi, I had a very productive meeting with Minister Krishna. We discussed bilateral relations and regional and global issues of mutual interest. I took the opportunity to underscore Canada’s deep commitment to the negotiations toward the Canada-India comprehensive economic partnership agreement and the administrative arrangements to the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. These partnerships will lead to new opportunities and stronger economies in both countries,” he said.
In India, Baird also met with S.K. Shinde, Minister of Home Affairs, and Shivshankar Menon, National Security Adviser. He conveyed to them Canada’s commitment to “increasing our trade and people-to-people links with India. In recent years, both countries have been working to enhance bilateral cooperation in a number of areas of mutual priority. India is an important strategic partner for Canada in the areas of food and energy security, education and infrastructure development.”
Minister Baird also mentioned that the nuclear cooperation agreement with India was important for electricity generation that will fuel India’s future prosperity. It’s also good for air quality and for the fight against greenhouse gas emissions. “We signed the agreement and we have the administrative arrangements under the agreement that we’re fairly close to resolution with. We’re looking for the same standard administrative arrangements that we have with existing partners such as the United States and the European Union. We’re not requesting anything more of India than we have from the other 41 cooperation agreements we have. The key issue with which we’re seeking to address is the traceability, something that’s important for Canada.”
In Mumbai, Baird met with Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He also held valuable discussions with Canadian companies working in India, during which he provided updates on important files, such as the Canada-India foreign investment promotion and protection agreement and comprehensive economic partnership agreement. He emphasized Canada’s ongoing commitment to increasing business links with India and to obtaining views on ways to encourage further involvement of Canadian companies in India.
“I had the opportunity to visit a Bollywood film studio, where I discussed the negotiations toward a Canada-India audiovisual co-production agreement. The agreement would give Canadian and Indian producers increased access to investment from foreign markets and strengthen the existing relationship between the two countries, while supporting the creation of a greater number of original audiovisual co-productions that could be distributed on a larger scale,” Minister Baird said.
He also had the opportunity to attend the official opening of the new offices of the Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai. “This new office space will allow us to better serve Canadians and Canadian businesses in Mumbai. The eight Canadian offices in India represent and support the strong India-Canada bilateral relationship, built upon shared traditions of democracy and pluralism and strong interpersonal connections.” Minister Baird was accompanied by Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, during the visit—his first to India as minister of foreign affairs.