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Indo-Canada Ties Hold Untapped Potential

Monday, January 07, 2013
By A Business Reporter

The match between the two countries is so perfect that it seems to be tailor-made. The people, the economics, the trade all seems to be just the right fit. The countries in question are India and Canada. And, according to experts, this relationship has a lot of potential that is yet to be exploited.

“We need to identify certain segments of the economy and focus on them so that trade between our countries can be enhanced even further,” says Vijay Kalantri, President All India Association of Industries (AIAI). Kalantri was speaking with reference to the trade potential between India and Canada at a recent meet that was organised by the World Trade Centre, Mumbai to honour the mayors of two Canadian cities as also to boost trade between India and Canada.
The balance of trade between the two countries is almost equal. The export-import equation between India and Canada stands at approximately 2.5 to 2.7 billion dollars. Compared to this, trade with China, stands at some 16 billion dollars. “There is no reason why trade between India and Canada could not touch approximately 15 billion dollars by 2015,” says Kalantri.

It is to be noted that the Canadian economy is a stable one. So how is trade between the two countries to be boosted? “We must always be in conversation so that not only trade but also ties between India and Canada are enhanced,” says Kalantri.

“There is a deep appreciation in Markham of the very significant contribution of the South Asian community,” says Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of Markham in Canada. The contribution that Scarpitti referred to was not just in the business sphere, but also in the cultural aspect as well. “Markham and Brampton (another town in Canada) are just two of the communities that have realised the contribution of the South Asian community,” informs Scarpitti. 

Thus the Mayor was bullish with the Vibrant Gujarat concept, which he felt makes for a really good trade contribution.

Incidentally Markham is known s Canada’s high-tech capital and boasts of more than 900 firms in this sector in that city. Her main employment generator however lies in another sphere, one that is as close to the Indian hearts as is IT – the SME segment. “A large number of the entrepreneurs in the SME segment are from India,” informs Scarpitti.

At the end of the day it boils down to economics, specifically taxes. “We have a lower tax rate than the US. This is something that is not widely known,” says Scarpitti.

Another city that highlights the tax advantage to get trade and investment with India rolling is that of Brampton. “Not only are our tax rates very competitive, but our water too is abundant and at competitive rates,” says Susan Fannell, Mayor of Brampton. Thus, Brampton’s water reserves are expected to last for some two hundred years. And why is this relevant? “This is important for industries like those in the Food & Beverages industry,” she says.

Highlighting the fact that just because you are a government body you can be as aggressive as the private sector is the fact that, according to Fannell, Brampton is a debt-free city. “All of the infrastructure that you see has been paid for,” she says.

“We have such a strong South Asian community back home that when I stepped off the plane (in India) I felt that I was back home,” Fannell said.

“Our sustained growth over the past three and a half decades has been because of our focus on our mandate,” says Naval Bajaj, President, Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce, explain the success of that trade body that was founded to boost ties between the two countries.  The Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce is the largest Diaspora body in the world, Bajaj informs.

The strategy of the body to achieve success has been two fold. First there is a focus on small businesses. Next, there is a focus on the Tier III government.
“A large number of the one million or so Diaspora in Canada is in business. It is in our DNA,” explains Bajaj of the success of Indians in Canada. Perhaps this is a way forward for the two countries to boost ties even further.

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