MISSION INDIA: PM Stephen Harper says Canada-India trade links must come faster

Published: November 8, 2012

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper gets a blessing from a priest inside the Sri Someshwara temple in Bangalore Nov. 8, 2012. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

MARK KENNEDY
POSTMEDIA NEWS

BANGALORE, India — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared Thursday that India’s democratic system is partly responsible for the slow pace of change as Canada tries to boost trade ties with the South Asian giant.

Harper made the comments at a news conference as he neared the end of a trip to India, during which the focus was on fostering better political relations and increasing bilateral trade and investment.

Canada wants to sign a free trade deal with India next year and reach a pact that will gave legal protections to Canadian business people who invest in India. Progress on both those fronts has been slow.

Harper indicated Thursday he was frustrated, but understands the limits on India’s government.

“I think I am very clear that we need to go farther and faster,” he said.

Harper met India’s senior leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose coalition government is on shaky ground and has appeared paralyzed by an inability to get opposition consent for economic reforms to allow more foreign investment.

“What we do have to realize when we deal with India, as opposed to some other countries that we’re dealing with in the developing world – this country is a democracy,” said Harper.

“And that means that governments cannot simply dictate a whole set of policy changes to happen the next day. That means governments must develop consensus behind policy changes. And that, in this country is not easy. We understand that.”

“At the same time I’m also a believer that although democracy can slow things down from time to time, in the long term, democracy produces more robust consensus. That means better things for the long-term trajectory.”

Harper said he believes the Singh government sincerely wants to expand foreign trade and that it is clear that “Canada is a top priority in that regard.”

He said it wasn’t always that way, insisting that when he replaced the governing Liberals in office in 2006, Canada-India relations were “frozen”.

Harper wants to boost Canada-India bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2015.

“I think we’re making significant progress.”

During his trip, Harper delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in New Delhi in which he urged India to strike a free trade agreement with Canada.

Harper noted that the two countries have now reached deals to allow the export of Canadian uranium for the Indian nuclear power industry, as well as a pact that makes it easier for people to work temporarily in each country.

Meanwhile, after eight years of negotiations, the countries are still toiling away behind the scenes on an agreement to give investors legal protections — with no clue of when — or if — a deal will be successfully reached.

Perhaps most importantly, Harper has publicly committed his government to reach a comprehensive free trade agreement with India sometime in 2013.

There have been five rounds of talks, with the next negotiating session set to occur next week in Ottawa.

In his Wednesday speech to the Forum, Harper attached a sense of urgency to the negotiations.

“Friends, here’s the bottom line. The world is moving quickly. Canada and India must also.”

Tags: ,




Featured

football-100year journey

B.C.’s South Asian pioneer Ranjit Mattu mentored many football stars

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Even as a child, Ranjit Mattu knew he had game. From his first play on the field of Mount Pleasant Elementary,…
Continue Reading »

pioneers

Dharm Singh Gill changed the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing turbans at work

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Little did Dharm Singh Gill realize that an act of heroism would change the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing their…
Continue Reading »

Jacqui Feldman shows off a recovering Sugar, her 13-year-old poodle that Terra Nova vet Dr. Javaid Chaudhry, rear, helped save after operating to remove a tumour. Feldman, who is battling cancer herself, fell on hard times and couldn’t afford to pay the $3,000-plus for Sugar’s procedure.  Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Richmond veterinarian steps up to save cancer sufferer’s dying dog

ALAN CAMPBELL RICHMOND NEWS Richmond’s Jacqui Feldman, who’s suffering from terminal cancer, is crediting a local veterinarian with saving her life. It was a few weeks ago…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Japan-Canada trade talks stalled with no meetings in sight

By Mike Blanchfield THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Trade talks have stalled between Canada and Japan — one of the Harper government’s priority countries for…
Continue Reading »

football-100year journey

B.C.’s South Asian pioneer Ranjit Mattu mentored many football stars

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Even as a child, Ranjit Mattu knew he had game. From his first play on the field of Mount Pleasant Elementary,…
Continue Reading »

pioneers

Dharm Singh Gill changed the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing turbans at work

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Little did Dharm Singh Gill realize that an act of heroism would change the way Sikhs were regarded for wearing their…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

weight-loss

Do we need to exercise more or eat less?

JILL BARKER MONTREAL GAZETTE A battle is waging in the scientific journals between several prominent health and fitness experts. In one corner are physicians Aseem Malhotra,…
Continue Reading »

exam scores

Identical twins’ mark sheets almost as identical and the story of a courageous young achiever

HINDUSTAN TIMES AND VANCOUVER DESI They are identical twins and, interestingly, even their mark sheets look almost the same. Ranchi twins Aporupa and Anorupa Chattopadhyay …
Continue Reading »

India-pharma-under scanner

U.S. lawsuit puts generic drug imports from India under scanner

IANS Washington – A U.S. class action lawsuit accusing India’s Ranbaxy of large-scale deception on its generic drug applications puts a question mark on drug…
Continue Reading »

100 year journey

Apart from the overwhelming cold, Sucha Singh Bagri has fond memories of his first few days in B.C.

SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Sucha Singh Bagri arrived in Canada with his father Harnam Singh Bagri on Feb 2, 1935, on the Empress of Russia,…
Continue Reading »

swimsuits

Who wants to be a Princess? Beauty pageant contestants undergo rigorous training

VANCOUVER DESI Divas aspiring to become Indian Princesses are undergoing rigorous training before the grand finale of the beauty pageant in Mumbai. Indian princess pageant 2015 ◄…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Items of clothing are displayed in room 331 of the Martinez Hotel, where Parisian fashion house Elie Saab provides sartorial services to celebrities attending the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 21, 2015. During the Cannes Film Festival, room 331 is radically transformed into a red carpet emergency room - where celebrities like Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman can rush to if they pop out of a dress, or a zipper breaks. Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

‘Nip slips’ and broken zippers: Red carpet Emergency Room for Cannes wardrobe malfunctions always full of drama

THOMAS ADAMSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CANNES, France – For most of the year, room 331 of the Martinez Hotel is just your run-of-the mill luxury…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai doesn’t leave her daughter alone even for a night

HINDUSTAN TIMES Apart from walking the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is also screening footage from her upcoming film, Jazbaa. The first…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Photos: Aishwarya Rai an absolute stunner at Cannes 2015 (updated)

VANCOUVER DESI Former beauty queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been a Cannes regular for over a decade now. But this year marks her comeback to the…
Continue Reading »