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Diplomatica: India's high commissioner predicts free-trade deal by year-end

JENNIFER CAMPBELL in Ottawa Citizen

Published on: May 13, 2015

  India's new high commissioner has all but guaranteed Canada and India will have a free-trade agreement by the end of 2015.

"I will sit here at the end of this year and say, 'Look, we've done it'," said Vishnu Prakash, a career diplomat who began his post just prior to the productive April visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

  He said his government is confident Canada and India will sign a foreign investment protection agreement "within weeks or months" and, he said, "we are very confident that we'll be able to finalize the CEPA (comprehensive economic partnership agreement) this year."

  Prakash said the mandate for his mission in Ottawa was pretty much set by agreements signed by the two prime ministers.

  "I think the two prime ministers have placed the relationship in a different orbit," he said. "We have elevated relations to a strategic partnership and we've moved decisively to expand the relationship in practically every sphere.People-to-people, economic, business relations, educational ties, energy, security and defence co-operation."

  India will be looking to Canada for help in further educating its young population. "We have to upgrade the skills of 500 million Indians over the next 10 years," he said. "We need partnerships. Canada is already one of our important partners in skills and human resource development."

  To that end, memorandums of understanding were signed with 13 colleges and universities.

  He said India's stratospheric growth - it's projecting eight per cent GDP growth this year - will mean business opportunities for international investors.

  "The supply base in India is narrow and our import rates are high," he said. "So there is a huge demand for quality products, competitively priced.

  Rapid urbanization will create a need for housing, transportation infrastructure, schools, water, sanitation, IT and environmental services.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/indias-high-commissioner-predicts-free-trade-deal-by-year-end

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