India and Canada, an energy superpower and home to a large Indian diaspora, are set to fast-track their civil nuclear deal and scale up their engagement across diverse sectors, ranging from counter-terrorism to trade, agriculture, energy and natural resources.
The blossoming India-Canada ties will be in focus during the six-day visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Nov 4-9) to India. He will also go to India’s IT hub Bangalore, Agra, home to the immortal Taj Mahal and Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab which sends immigrants to Canada in droves every year.
Fast-tracking the nuclear deal, which the two countries signed in 2010 – a defining moment in the ongoing transformation of their relations — will be high on the agenda. Vikram Doraiswamy, joint secretary in charge of Americas in India’s external affairs ministry, sees Harper’s visit as a reflection of mutual political will by India and Canada “to re-engage more closely and take their bilateral ties to new heights.” He is hopeful of “forward movement on implementing the nuclear deal during the visit.” The specifics and modalities of the India-specific safeguards agreement are being worked out, he says. The agreement will be within the framework of the India-specific safeguards agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Indian law and the Canadian national law, he clarified.
During his visit to India in September, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird had lauded India’s non-proliferation credentials and stressed that Canada, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, was not insisting on any “additional conditionalities” for supplying uranium to India and will follow the same pattern as it has with the US and the European Union.
Intensifying energy tie-ups and trade and investment will be high on the agenda.
India and Canada are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to spur their economic ties. The next round of negotiations will be held in Canada mid-November.
Bilateral trade is currently estimated to be $5 billion. Indian investments in Canada are steadily growing and are estimated to be over $10 billion.
With Canada emerging as an agricultural superpower, India is also looking to scale up agricultural trade between the two countries. In the realm of energy, India’s OVL is hoping to acquire oil blocks in Canada.
Amid reports of stepped-up activities of Khalistan activists in Canada, India will also be taking up the issue with Canada during Harper’s visit.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.