New Delhi: India and Canada on Tuesday set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2015, besides agreeing to start a policy dialogue on financial sector to facilitate mutual understanding of developments in the area. They also concluded negotiations on a nuclear cooperation agreement that will take Ottawa one step closer to starting uranium exports to India.
"The conclusion of the administrative arrangement with India will facilitate opportunities for Canadian companies to play a greater role in meeting India's growing energy needs," Canadian Prime Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a written statement. "It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contacts between our countries and to create high-quality new jobs here at home."
They also inked an agreement on social security besides MoUs on cooperation in information technology and electronics and for joint research and develoopment cooperation in defence science and technology.
The agreement on social security pact aims to relieve their workers from double taxation. Under the agreement, workers on short-term contracts up to five years will not be required to make any social security contribution in Canada provided they continue to make social security payments in the country of their origin.
It also provides for "portability of contributions" or moving the social security contribution at the time of relocation, and totalling the periods of contribution for determining eligibility to a benefit.
Canada has a large Indian origin community which, according to 2001 figures, numbers over 850,000.
A joint statement issued after the meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian Counterpart Stephen Harper also said the two sides welcomed the progress being made in negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Both the sides reaffirmed their desire to conclude it by the end of 2013. The CEPA negotiations were launched in November 2010 to further boost bilateral trade and investment. The pact aimed at slashing or eliminating duties on maximum number of products traded between the two countries, besides opening the services sector and facilitating investment proposals.
"The two leaders noted that bilateral trade, at its current level, did not reflect the true potential of the commercial relationship. The two leaders reiterated their shared desire to see bilateral trade reach $ 15 billion by 2015," it said. Currently, the bilateral trade stands at over $5 billion.
The two Prime Ministers endorsed the decision to commence a financial sector policy dialogue at an early date "to facilitate mutual understanding of developments in the financial sectors of the two countries, and to discuss and coordinate positions on developments in global fora", it said. Canada encouraged India to consider providing increased opportunities for Canadian participation in the Indian financial sector, it added.
Singh and Harper also welcomed the substantial progress made towards finalising a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and expressed their commitment to
finalise it on a priority basis. Both the sides also underlined the need to institutionalise
the Annual Trade Ministerial Dialogue on a regular basis to boost bilateral trade and investment flows.
India has sought Canadian investments in infrastructure sector, the statement said.
Canada primarily exports vegetables, fertilisers, machinery and wood pulp, while its main imports from India are organic chemicals, knit and woven apparel, precious stones and metals, electronics and machinery.