M A I N   N E W S

Canada views India as big power
Keen to increase trade relations
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
The visiting Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Paul Martin, today told his counterpart Mr Manmohan Singh, that he foresaw the emergence of India, China and Brazil as the world’s new big powers within a decade or so and showed keenness on rapid growth in bilateral relations with India from a long-term perspective.

Though not a single agreement was formally signed during this visit, South Block mandarins looked upon Mr Martin’s visit as very crucial and highly successful in which the two countries took a host of top-level decisions. The two countries agreed to:

l Develop a tsunami early warning system for the countries of the Indian Ocean in collaboration with like-minded nations. However, India again made it clear that it was fully capable of dealing with the tsunami challenge with its own resources.

l Encourage a CEOs roundtable on trade and investment promotion and giving serious consideration to a partnership in environmental technologies.

l Have big-time cooperation in the fields of information technology, bio-technology and nano-technology.

The idea behind having CEOs roundtable is to encourage corporate and business sectors of the two countries to have increased and more frequent interaction, South Block sources said. These issues are no longer dealt with at a government-to-government level, rather the governments perform the role of enabling agents, sources explained.

“I have never seen such a focussed bilateral visit,” commented a senior South Block official.

Another important point that transpired during the talks between the two Prime Ministers is that Canada favoured an increased role of G-20 in world affairs and upgrading its present interaction level from Foreign Ministers to the summit level. India is a part of G-20, a five-continental world body which is a better representative body of today’s world in comparison to G-8, which is seen as “a white men’s club”.

Dr Manmohan Singh welcomed Mr Martin’s initiative for a meeting of G-20 leaders to discuss issues of global concern, such as terrorism, development and global public health.

Mr Martin told the Indians that Canada was completely dependent on trade with the United States and was looking for diversifying its trade partners. He saw the emergence of India, China and Brazil as the world’s next superpowers and so it was better for his country to cultivate these three countries. Mr Martin recently visited Brazil and is going to Japan and China from here.

Mr Martin was scheduled to visit Mumbai, Amritsar and Agra also but cancelled visits to these Indian cities. He changed his itinerary in view of the tsunami disaster and visited Thailand and Sri Lanka before coming here.

Mr Martin surprised Dr Manmohan Singh also when he said at his joint press interaction at Hyderabad House that Punjabi was the fourth largest language in Canada.

Mr Martin also pointed out that there were about ten MPs from South Asia in the Canadian Parliament. Some of the MPs of Indian origin are part of the Canadian Prime Minister’s delegation to India. The delegation also includes Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, a prominent member of the Indian community in Canada.

By making Mr Dosanjh his cabinet minister and by bringing him to India as part of his official delegation, sources said, Mr Martin conveyed a point to Sikhs in India as well as Canada because Mr Dosanjh had taken a very tough view against “Khalistan”.

Interestingly, both Mr Martin and Dr Manmohan Singh were Finance Ministers of their respective countries during the same period and are now the Prime Ministers roughly at the same time.

At the joint press conference, Dr Manmohan Singh made an important remark in his opening statement when he said: “It is my deep hope and aspiration that very soon, it will not be necessary for Indians to go abroad to demonstrate their entrepreneurship.”

The two Prime Minister’s talks focused on the “core elements” of Indo-Canadian ties: trade and investment, science and technology and cooperation in environment and health. At today’s talks, the two PMs identified some specific measures in these fields which Dr Manmohan Singh said would lead to new initiatives.

They agreed to work towards the recommendations of the High-Level UN Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and reiterated their commitment towards contributing to a more effective, representative and accountable world body.


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