Canada and India have long-standing bilateral relations, built on shared traditions of a shared British experience of democracy, justice, wide spread use of the English language and strong interpersonal ties with an Indian diaspora of more than one million in Canada.
As the second largest country in the world by population, and only by forty and a half million people, India, is a critical piece in the Canadian International trade puzzle. So why aren’t we doing more in trade?
Vivek Savkur, Chairman Emeritus at BC-India Business Network, has been involved in trying to answer that question and develop Canada-India bilateral trade for over thirty years. Before emigrating to Canada he served as the national President of the Indo-Canadian Business Chamber. That’s how he developed his many relationships and connections in India as well as Canada. But after spending most of his life advocating for and facilitating trade between India and Canada he sees a very exciting future.
So with his mission and passion still burning strongly, the Asian Journal invited Vivek Savkur to submit his five choices for 2017 New Year’s Resolutions for Promoting Canada-India Relations and Bilateral Trade:
1) A reciprocal visit to India by our Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau this year, to meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will strengthen political and socio-economic ties between our two great Commonwealth nations.
2) To speedily resolve, in 2017, all outstanding barriers and issues standing in the way of signing the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and India, which has been under negotiation for many years. The important agreement when resolved is projected to increase bilateral trade by five times between Canada and India.
3) To increase mobility between Canada and India, settling air transportation issues by reviewing and relaxing the “open sky” policy towards India. In 2016, direct non-stop flights between Toronto-Delhi and Vancouver-Delhi were started. It is now imperative to have direct non-stop flights between Vancouver and Mumbai. Mumbai is the commercial capital of India where most of the prominent business leaders, financial institutions and industries are concentrated. Travel time between Vancouver and India must continue to be reduced, in some cases, cut down from twenty-four hours-plus to thirteen hours, in order to attract Indian industrialists to invest in BC.
4) To review immigration policy and liberalize issuance of visitor visas to business people and give more weight to recommendations by trade and business councils. Many bilateral business opportunities have been lost particularly in the Audio-Visual and Film Production Sectors. The education sector also has suffered due to visa denials to prospective Indian students wanting to enroll in Canadian universities.
5) Resolve to promote and build deeper understandings and ties with India as well as different Indian provinces, perhaps as a legacy of Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations. It’s a golden opportunity to actively participate and celebrate together to strengthen social, cultural and economic ties between Canada and India.