Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

India's consul general wants to ratchet up trade

'Practical and specific initiatives' from Canada

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Winnipeg got a taste of the kind of road show Canadians might see more of as the country negotiates a comprehensive economic-partnership agreement with India.

India's newly installed Consul General Akhilesh Mishra was in Winnipeg accompanied by Peter Sutherland, the CEO of the Canada-India Business Council and Foreign Affairs Canada officials.

On Tuesday, they spoke to about 50 people in an event organized by Manitoba Trade.

The two countries have almost the same size of economies, and the balance of trade is almost the same, with Canada exporting about $2.8 billion to India in 2013 and importing about $3.0 billion in goods.

The Indian economy has come a long way since the early '90s when economic liberalization began, and Mishra said there is a general consensus there is no turning back.

But when it comes to more active trade and investment from Canada, he said it is now time to get to the next level.

"This is the time when we have to graduate from discussion in general terms to more practical and specific initiatives," Mishra said.

Sutherland, Canada's former high commissioner in New Delhi, said there is increasing interest in doing business in India.

"A decade ago it was a tough sell to try to gather a group to talk about India," he said. "Today, there is lots of interest in India. But now the challenge is how to take that interest and translate it into action."

Mishra is particularly enthusiastic about opportunities for Canadian academic institutions.

He said there are 250,000 Indians who go abroad every year for school and many go to countries and institutions where they do not get good value for their tuition.

He believes Canadian schools can provide that value.

Sutherland said Canadian business people should focus on the things that are important in India that Canadians are good at.

In addition to education, those things would include energy security, agri-food and grain handling and logistics.

 

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2014 B6

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