The Hindu BusinessLine | 14 February 2018
Canadian PM Trudeau set to woo Punjab industry
by Amiti Sen
Eager to please the Sikh community in Canada which is increasingly gaining political weight in the country, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is all set to woo the Punjab industry during his India visit later this week.
“Trudeau’s team has indicated to the Punjab government that he wanted to interact with industrialists and businesses in the State to understand the challenges investors and exporters were facing in Canada so that these could be resolved,” an official close to the development told BusinessLine.
The Punjab Industry Department has got in touch with exporters’ body FIEO asking it to identify products that the State could export to Canada duty free or at very low import duties as part of the India-Canada free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated.
“The government of Punjab wants the products exported by the State to be front-loaded for tariff concessions in the proposed FTA. My team is working on identifying such products and are focusing on the ones where Canada has already given tariff concessions to other FTA partner countries as it is easier to seek similar concessions on such items,” said Ajay Sahai, Director-General, FIEO.
Trudeau, during his week-long official trip to India from February 17-23, will visit Amritsar, Agra, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi.
Given the increasing political heft of the Sikh population in Canada, Sahai said that it was not surprising that Trudeau had expressed interest in interacting with businesses in Punjab and sorting out their problems.
Four members of Trudeau’s Cabinet are Sikhs which includes Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Interestingly, his newest political rival is also a Sikh — Jagmeet Singh — who created history after being elected leader of the New Democratic Party last year.
The Canadian PM, accompanied by a business delegation representing prominent companies from the country, is also scheduled to address two business forums in Mumbai and Delhi. The meets are being co-organised by the Canada-India Business Council, the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber and prominent Indian industry associations.
“Although formal talks on the proposed CECA and BIT will not take place during the PM’s visit, it could form an important part of discussions at the business forums,” another government official said.
Canada and India are working on a FTA, formally known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which aims to bring down tariffs on goods and ease restrictions in services and investment flows.
Trade, investment pacts
The two countries are also negotiating a bilateral investment treaty called the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) to extend protection to each other’s investments.
The two-way trade between India and Canada doubled to $6.05 billion in 2016 from $3.21 billion in 2010, but there exists a huge potential for growth as India accounts for only 1.95 per cent of Canada’s global trade.