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Meeting of Prime Ministers of India and Canada - Briefing by MEA Spokesperson

   Official Spokesperson (Shri VikasSwarup):  I am going to brief you on the bilateral that Prime Minister has just had with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

   Prime Minister's first bilateral engagement of the day was a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. You will recall that Prime Minister when he visited Canada last year had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Trudeau who was then the Leader of the Opposition. He had also met Mr. Trudeau's daughter Ella-Grace at that time. And this was their first meeting since Mr. Trudeau became the next Prime Minister of Canada.

   Prime Minister began the meeting by congratulating him on his fantastic win in the elections. He said that ever since Mr. Trudeau had taken over the post of Prime Minister, Indo-Canadian relations had got new energy, dynamism and speed, and the subjects that Prime Minister had discussed with Mr. Trudeau during their last meeting in Canada were all now being implemented on the ground.

   The possibilities on the economic side were immense, Prime Minister said. He also lamented the fact that Indo-Canadian economic relations had not reached their full potential yet. And he reiterated what he had said earlier also that India and Canada are two countries which are literally made for each other. He said that Canada has all the natural resources in the world, India has the need for those resources as well as the manpower.

   Prime Minister also recalled his meeting with the heads of the Canadian Pension Funds and said that since that meeting many positive developments had happened and Canadian Pension Funds were already investing more than USD 8 billion in India.

   Prime Minister Trudeau complimented Prime Minister on his excellent intervention last evening at the White House dinner. He said that India and Canada can both be leaders in nonproliferation arena in the world.

   Prime Minister said that we had had very fruitful partnership with Canada in the area of climate change and environment. In this context he referred to their working together closely in the lead up to and during COP21. Prime Minister mentioned that India had set very ambitious renewable energy targets, in particular the target of reaching 175 GW in terms of renewable energy. He says within that our focus would be on nuclear energy which, as you know, is clean energy. He said that our relationship with Canada in this area has been progressing very well. 

   You will recall that when Prime Minister had gone to Canada last year they had signed an agreement for the supply of uranium which has since happened. Prime Minister has also alluded to the fact that India, the land of Buddha and Gandhi, is also totally committed to nonviolence. 

   Then Prime Minister referred to some of his flagship programmes. He talked about the 500 cities where, as you know, renewable energy infrastructure is to be built in terms of waste management, converting waste into energy. He also talked about the smart cities project, the project to bring metro transport to as many as 50 cities in India, and said that all this will lead not only to better quality of life for Indian citizens but also the introduction of ecologically friendly technologies. And he said that Canadian companies stand a very big chance in bagging contracts if they were to invest in these sectors in India.

   He also said that considering that 800 million people in India are below the age of 35, skilling our youth is a top priority for the Government, and there also Canada can contribute a lot. You will recall that when Prime Minister had gone to Canada last year, several MoUs were signed with Canadian community colleges and polytechnics. 

   Prime Minister then mentioned the fact that Canada also has a surplus of human resource capital. He said that Canadian professors and teachers including retired faculty members could consider coming to India during the harsh winter months in Canada and teaching at Indian universities for periods ranging from three to six months under the GIA and Vigyan programmes, and this would allow India to receive quality education and that would certainly receive a big boost.

   Mr. Trudeau said absolutely, he totally concurred with this suggestion and said that he had been a school teacher himself and many of the school teachers during his time had been overseas. In fact he said that unfortunately as many people who could have gone to India did not go to India. So, there is a real potential he said for harnessing the opportunity of helping so many young people in India get better skills and Canada would also be happy to provide education and infrastructure support.

   He talked about Canadian expertise in environment friendly technologies, in dealing with climate change, in anti poverty strategies and innovations which could help the global economy as also the planet. Prime Minister said that yes poverty alleviation is an important plank for his Government and till the benefits reach the last person in the society we cannot say that we have been successful.

   Prime Minister then talked about a very important initiative that has been announced in the last budget. This is the announcement of very progressive policies for the hydrocarbons sector in particular for deep sea and high temperature exploration. He said that these sectors have now been opened up, the sector will be entirely market driven, and the policies would allow top companies from abroad to participate in the Indian market now in this sector.

   Canadian companies, he said, have a lot of expertise in exploration and they could be partners for us in technology as well as in investment. As you know, this hydrocarbon policy has come into effect from today, the 1st of April.

   Prime Minister also mentioned that India has the third largest coal reserves in the world but fossil fuels pose a challenge to the environment and that is why India had already started working on coal gasification and underground mining again for which Canadian companies have the requisite expertise and they could participate in the Indian sectors.

   Mr. Trudeau acknowledged that yes Canada does have a strong energy sector and he wanted to work with India in ways which were less harmful to the environment. And he said Canada will be very happy to cooperate with India in both coal gasification as well as underground mining. 

   Then Mr. Trudeau also referred to the possibility of moving forward on the Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

   Finally, Prime Minister extended a very warm invitation to Prime Minister Trudeau to visit India. He said we are looking forward to welcoming Mr. Trudeau in India. Mr. Trudeau immediately accepted that. He said he would love to visit India and would also love to bring his family too. 

1 April 2016

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