Canada Calling: Ontario targets India growth opportunity

Kathleen Wynne

The east-central Canadian province of Ontario, which accounts for 40 percent of the country’s population, is set to leverage new opportunities unleashed by the world’s fastest growing economy during Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne’s visit to India. The January 31- February 5 visit of Ms Wynne will focus on strengthening economic, political and cultural cooperation with India. Ontario is home to 7,00,000-strong Indian diaspora.

The delegation led by Ms Wynne will comprise experts from Ontario’s sustainable development and urban infrastructure, business, and higher education sectors across India to promote Ontario’s business advantage and create opportunities for new partnerships. The delegation would be visiting four cities New Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chandigarh.

The trade between India and Ontario is estimated to be around $2 billion. Speaking about the creation of infrastructure and jobs, Ms Wynn said, “Ontario and India have much in common — we are both committed to making record-breaking infrastructure investments that will create jobs and strengthen our economies, we both understand the urgency and necessity of creating a sustainable future, and we both know that we need a well-educated workforce to meet the challenges of the future. I look forward to meeting with political and business leaders to share Ontario’s expertise in priority areas so that we can strengthen our existing partnerships and look for new ways to work together.”

Smart Cities

Collaboration with Ontario could also help in the building of India’s smart cities. During Mr Modi’s visit India and Canada had focused on enhancing collaboration under the ‘Smart Cities Mission’. The ‘smart cities’ initiative would offer significant commercial opportunities for Canadian businesses. Urban transformation and smart city development initiatives would leverage Canadian expertise in areas including public private partnerships, intelligent transportation systems, civil engineering and urban planning, water and wastewater management, affordable housing.

Cooperation between states

A sizeable number of Indians living in Ontario hail from Punjab, which accounts for enthusiasm of Punjab in collaborating with Ontario in various areas. The delegation’s visit to Chandigarh will identify some of these focus areas.

Ontario would also focus on enhancing collaboration in the field of Information Technology during the delegation’s visit to Hyderabad. The city is a leading tech hub in India with some of the world’s biggest tech giants having their Indian operations headquartered in the city. Hyderabad has also launched the largest incubation centre in India known as ‘T-Hub’ which aims to bring the best ecosystem for startups in the country and the Indian government’s recently launched ‘Start up India’ initiative could encourage entrepreneurs from Ontario to  setup base in India.

Improving collaboration with Ontario would also give thrust to Mr Modi’s aim of having states playing a larger role in foreign policy.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada in April 2015, India and Canada had agreed to pursue specific measures to diversify and deepen bilateral trade and investment cooperation, including the setting up of a Finance Ministers Dialogue.

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