By: Kasi Rao in Toronto, ON
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s arrival in New Delhi on February 17 for a week-long state visit marks the 12th visit by a member of his cabinet to India, and given his position, the most important one.
The significance of Trudeau’s visit is clear — India matters to Canada, as a friend and a trading partner with still-unrealized potential at a time when Canada seeks to broaden and deepen its international markets.
Canada and India have been talking for a while about reaching more comprehensive trade and investment agreements. But the real significance of this visit is already comprehensive — there’s a positive shift in our relationship that we’re ready to build on together.
The building blocks are there. Two-way trade between Canada and India was nearly $8 billion in 2016, even though there have been setbacks and slow progress in formal trade talks.
We do that amount of two-way trade with the United States every four days. But when it comes to Canada-India trade, the modesty of the numbers is a reflection of the past, not the promise of the future.
The obstacles are obvious too. Late last year, Indian government officials slapped an increased tariff on pulses — the little yellow peas that are a staple in South Asia, which Canadian farmers export to India.
Yet we have common ground. Canada is the biggest contributor of pulses to India, and India benefits when our supply is not constricted by tariffs.
There’s no substitute for a meeting between two leaders to reach a better understanding and make it easier to trade commodities.
Canada and India have been negotiating those free trade and investments agreements for some time now — and they may well take longer. That doesn’t negate the need for a sustained engagement with India across multiple sectors.
This visit is an opportunity — to find more common ground. The elements for stronger trade, business and investment relationships between Canada and India are apparent in the number of sectors that are robust and growing yet still relatively untapped.
There are huge opportunities to expand in tourism, research and skills, medical science, technology and innovation.
Some trading partners in the world lament a brain drain, where talented people leave. Between Canada and India it’s a brain chain, where the best and brightest in both countries complement and bolster each others’ achievements.
For example, Canada is one of the most welcoming countries, reflected in our increased immigration targets at a time when others in the G7 are cutting back.
More than a million Canadians trace their roots to India; they provide a natural bridge to newcomers. Canada has increasing potential as a magnet for higher education among promising Indian students, which contributes to research and innovation in both countries.
Canadians and Indians also share many similar attitudes and values in their outlook to solving global problems. On the economic front, Indian states now embrace cooperative and competitive federalism, marketing themselves internationally the way our provinces do.
Canadians and Indians also share many values when it comes to pluralism and diversity, and both countries are in sync on combatting climate change and the Paris Accord.
Public institutions in both countries have legitimacy in ways that either don’t exist in other places or are under severe strain.
Global studies such as the Pew Global Survey and 2018 Edelman Public Trust Barometer show that Canada and India rank consistently high in the public’s trust of institutions.
The strong Canadian team led by Prime Minister Trudeau, who is accompanied by senior Cabinet ministers, demonstrates Canada’s commitment to a wider and deeper relationship with India.
The Canadian brand is a compelling one that resonates with India. There is nothing like a prime ministerial visit — it provides an extraordinary platform to demonstrate the breadth and depth of our engagement.
Kasi Rao is President and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council (C-IBC). Republished under arrangement with iPolitics.
Commentary by: Muhammad Ali in Toronto, ON
I’m the child of Indian immigrants and, for my family, ‘Indian Standard Time’ is a term used to determine that even when we are running late, we are arriving with the party in full-swing. In the case of trade negotiations between Canada and India, we have reached Indian Standard Time.
Our two countries have long had a ‘complex’ bilateral relationship. While the previous Canadian government was able to successfully end a long-simmering nuclear dispute, allowing for the sale of Canadian uranium to India, it was unable to complete the free trade negotiations started back in 2010. Several cabinet ministers have visited India over the past two years, in addition to visits by various provincial premiers and big-city mayors to encourage more bilateral trade and investment between their respected jurisdictions.
But progress remains slow on a formal trade agreement.
Part of the reason for this slow progress is the lack of high-level discussions between Prime Minister Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With Trudeau visiting China twice and hosting President Xi Jinping in Canada, Indian officials may wonder how high of a priority trade with India is for the Canadian government. China and India are regional rivals economically, militarily and politically. They want assurances Canada cares and understands India.
Trudeau experiences a high degree of popularity amongst India’s population and within the Indo-Canadian community, an important political force in Canadian politics. To appease his key voter base and the interests of Canadian businesses, Trudeau will need to maximize his impact during his trip to India.
The purpose of this trip will be threefold: First, to quell any concerns Prime Minister Modi may have with the priority Canada has assigned to its relationship with China; second, to address any issues arising from the differences between the Indian and Indo-Canadian diasporas; and lastly, on issues impacting trade negotiations.
It will be part of Trudeau’s task to get Modi’s focus on the urgency and benefits of stronger trade ties with a trade agreement and use his popularity and charisma to show Modi that his commitment to improving our bilateral relationship is real and not calculated to only shore up domestic support.
South Asians in Canada hold tremendous political influence reflected by the appointment of four Sikh-Canadian ministers in important portfolios, and nearly two dozen MPs and Senators currently serving our country. Indo-Canadians have become engaged citizens who are shaping industry, culture and policy for Canadians. Addressing the delicate relationship between the Indian and Indo-Canadian diasporas will aide Trudeau to move negotiations forward.
Finally, Trudeau will be looking to address core economic issues such as agricultural exports to India, access to natural resources and migrant skilled workers coming to Canada. At the moment, India has raised tariffs on pulse seed imports, the majority of which comes from Saskatchewan. Canada produces a third of the worlds pulse crops (ex. lentils, peas, chickpeas) and this will have a ripple effect throughout the Canadian agricultural industry.
India and Canada can benefit from greater mobility of technology-trained workers, such as software engineers, between both countries. With the Waterloo-Toronto corridor and Bangalore-Hyderabad tech-centres hosting a thriving technology sector, a trade agreement would be able to enhance a bilateral ecosystem for companies to further develop.
Of most importance for Trudeau will be securing environmental and labour standards that have become core negotiating principles for this government. Canada’s leverage to securing these standards is giving India its first free-trade access to a Western market, including Canadian businesses that have access to North America, the EU, several countries in South America and potentially 10 Pacific-coast nations. Amidst the populist rhetoric to protectionism and anti-trade, Trudeau is positioning Canada as a beacon of economic opportunity that India would benefit from tremendously.
This trip to India, if successful, may cement Trudeau’s ability to deliver on his promise to diversify Canadian market access and reduce our dependence on the Americans, who continue to play Russian roulette with NAFTA discussions. Given the NAFTA risks, Canada needs this trade deal more than India does — to which Trudeau must move quickly before he loses any leverage in these talks.
This piece was republished under arrangement with iPolitics.
by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa
As Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican convention Thursday evening with a speech that played to Americans’ fears about the economy, illegal immigration and national security, many wondered aloud whether Canadian politics might be susceptible to his kind of populist appeal to the disaffected.
New polling from EKOS Research suggests the answer to that question, for the time being, is no: Most Canadians have a positive outlook, aren’t concerned about their economic future and value “openness” over “order” — even if they do believe the world is a more dangerous place than it was five years ago.
Earlier this month, from July 8 to 14, EKOS surveyed a random sample of 1,003 Canadians (with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20) on a range of subjects, recruiting them by phone to take online surveys.
They found a country that is, for the most part, seeing the glass as half-full.
Given a choice of a few adjectives to describe their current outlook on life, almost three-quarters of Canadians (73 per cent) said they were either “happy” or “hopeful”, compared to only 22 per cent who were “discouraged” and two per cent who were “angry”.
Anxiety over economy
There are certainly pockets of Canada that have seen job losses as a result of NAFTA and trade liberalization more generally — versions of Donald Trump’s “communities crushed by horrible and unfair trade deals” — but that hasn’t translated into collective anxiety about the economy.
Three in 10 Canadians do agree with the statement that they’ve lost all control over their economic future — but almost half (48 per cent) don’t, and one in five are agnostic.
“In addition to the clear lean to a positive emotional outlook, the incidence of those who feel they have lost ‘all control’ over their economic futures, although still significant, is actually lower than what we saw in the late 1990s. A sense of lost control is linked to a more negative emotional outlook and is strongly linked to the more economically vulnerable in society,” write EKOS President Frank Graves and EKOS research analyst Jeff Smith.
On one subject, however — safety — that sanguine feeling seems to disappear.
“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” Trump said Thursday evening.
Most Canadians appear inclined to agree. Only one in 20 (5 per cent) think the world is safer than it was five years ago, compared to 60 per cent who think it’s more dangerous and 34 per cent who think it’s about the same.
“It is disturbing to see how the public are seeing the balance of danger and safety in the world,” Graves and Smith write. “A rational review of the evidence would suggest that objective risks and safety of North Americans have improved over the last decade. But the emotional response to risk perception is egregiously different.”
Those results need to be put in perspective. No more than 12 per cent of Canadians have ever felt the world is safer than it was five years ago. That said, as recently as 2012, more thought the world hadn’t become any more dangerous.
To the extent that there is a large portion of the population worried about terrorist attacks, rising crime levels and the like, the next question becomes: What are they prepared to do about it?
Is there any appetite to build walls — even metaphorical ones — and suspend immigration? Or to embrace more authoritarian “law and order” governance?
It doesn’t look like it — at least for now.
Order vs. openness
EKOS asked Canadians to choose between a set of different values in what they call “forced choice questions”: openness versus order; respect for authority versus individual freedom; good behaviour versus creativity; morality versus reason and evidence; obedience versus questioning authority.
“When we summarize the results we find that overall a clear majority of Canadians lean to openness (54 per cent) versus the not insignificant minority who favour order (33 per cent). These numbers, while rough, suggest that an authoritarian or ordered outlook is less common in Canada than the United States (according to PEW who found over half of Americans to be authoritarian),” Graves and Smith write.
If drawing concrete conclusions about Canadians’ appetite for a Trump-like figure — or at least for the values he espouses — is a pretty subjective exercise, other recent EKOS polling has gotten at the subject more directly.
In June, EKOS asked what kind of impact Canadians thought a Trump presidency would have on Canada. Only 6.8 per cent thought it would be positive.
Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca
Ottawa’s plan to improve the Canadian public’s negative perception of the Chinese regime as the two countries look to increase bilateral relations and implement free trade deals took a step backwards with the Chinese foreign minister’s angry berating of a Canadian reporter last week.
Moscow (IANS): India and Russia on Thursday signed 16 agreements, including in areas of helicopter and nuclear reactor manufacturing, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited business leaders to be a partner of India’s prosperity. “As I look to the future, I see Russia as a significant partner in India’s economic transformation and in shaping […]
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BRITISH Columbia is moving to strengthen and diversify trade in Asian markets in order to grow the economy. Through a new Asia trade strategy, the Province will be opening trade and investment representative offices in Southeast Asia, developing a new strategy for India and expanding its activities in mid-size Chinese cities. Through the actions identified […]
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by BJ Siekierski in Ottawa
John Manley — the president and CEO of Canadian Council of Chief Executives — criticized the Harper government Tuesday for mismanaging bilateral relationships with China and Mexico, and reiterated a call for the incoming Liberal government to pursue a free trade agreement with China.
There are reasons to think that isn’t out of the question.
“We have very important trading relationships with both Mexico and China. And quite frankly, the Harper government didn’t manage those relationships particularly well,” Manley, whose organization represents 150 CEOs of Canada’s biggest companies, said in an interview on BNN.
This comes after an open letter Manley sent to Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau last week, which called for a “comprehensive bilateral economic agreement” with China, the reversal of the visa requirement for Mexican visitors and the ratification of the Canada-EU agreement and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership).
“We urge your government to reverse the 2009 decision that requires most travellers from Mexico to obtain a visa before visiting Canada. With regards to China — our country’s second-largest trading partner, and soon to be the world’s largest economy – we believe the time has come to seek a comprehensive bilateral economic agreement. Smart, principled engagement of China must be at the centre of Canadian foreign policy,” Manley wrote.
China requires immediate attention
He elaborated on those points Tuesday, days after the CEO of Ford Canada, Dianne Craig — a member of the Canadian Council of CEOs — spoke out against the TPP.
“Ford is one of our members, likewise is Linamar, one of our largest auto part companies, which supports TPP. So I don’t think there’s a unanimous view. I think overall, though, what I’d say…is this: if TPP doesn’t happen, well then life goes on. If TPP does happen, and the United States and Mexico are part of it, then Canada really needs to be there. We can’t afford, for our national interests, to be excluded from an an agreement in which two of our three largest trading partners are there,” Manley said.
Since TPP ratification on the U.S. side could be held up by Congress, Manley didn’t think there was any reason for Trudeau to “lose sleep” over it yet.
He said China, however, required immediate attention, adding that, like Australia and New Zealand, Canada should pursue a free trade agreement.
“Australia, while being a strong proponent of human rights — a strong supporter of rule of law — all of the things that Canada stands for, has managed to negotiate a free trade agreement with China. As has New Zealand. And they are benefiting — their economy is benefiting significantly in both cases,” Manley said.
“We seem to have a hard time deciding whether we want to do business with China or not, and we blow warm and cold. I think a consistent, lasting approach to China — multiple visits by our prime minister, by our minister of foreign affairs, by our minister of trade, and by our minister of industry, would yield benefits in the years to come. We don’t have to agree with China on everything, but we do need to engage China.”
Deepening relationship with China
While the Harper government signed and ratified, not without controversy, a foreign investment protection agreement with China, and released an economic complementarities study in August 2012, Ottawa preferred an incremental approach with regard to trade liberalization, reaching individual market access agreements for products such as beef, cherries, and blueberries.
“There are many mechanisms other than free trade agreements to allow us to deepen our trade relationship with China,” Trade Minister Ed Fast said last November.
In May, he clarified that the Harper government wanted to see the “more balance” in the trading relationship before moving forward with negotiations.
The Liberals have seemed more eager.
As Australia moved to implement their concluded free trade agreement with China, Liberal MPs — including Ralph Goodale, Chrystia Freeland, and Scott Brison — accused the Conservatives of bungling the relationship.
More recently, the Liberals named Peter Harder, who serves as president of the Canada-China Business Council, to head their transition team.
That could be a sign of things to come.
Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.
Despite the swirl of negativity and fear mongering that tens of thousands of Canadian jobs are at stake, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is actually seen as beneficial by the majority of businesses and consumers in the countries that have signed it.
According to independent research carried out by Edelman, 69 per cent of businesses and 67 per cent of consumers from TPP nations believe the free trade deal, which was signed recently by 12 member nations, will be beneficial to their economies.
The landmark agreement was signed on Oct. 5 by the U.S., Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada.
Edelman polled 1,000 businesses and 1,000 consumers in the nations that signed the TPP, excluding Brunei and Peru. The results show that the TPP is largely viewed in a positive light and there is significant awareness of the agreement.
From the company perspective, 52 per cent of businesses feel they are prepared for TPP, and 53 per cent feel it will have a positive impact on jobs.
At the consumer level, 67 per cent believe the TPP will be beneficial to the economy, but only 47 per cent feel it will benefit them and their families. Only 40 per cent of consumers are worried about the TPP’s impact on employment.
U.S. consumers are least aware of the TPP with just 40 per cent; Japan has the highest level of awareness with 95 per cent.
Mixed reactions in Canada
The member nations must now seek domestic ratification of the TPP, which is far from a forgone conclusion despite the partner-level approval. Much rests on the final text of the agreement due to be released shortly; the TPP garnered significant criticism for the secrecy around its five-year negotiation.
But the positive outlook on the TPP contrasts strong opposition by some unions in Canada.
The trade deal Stephen Harper's government has signed only two weeks before a federal election will kill good manufacturing jobs, dairy farm jobs and harm Canadians dependent on pharmaceutical drugs, said the United Steelworkers union.
"The safeguarding of Canadian jobs has been completely lost under Harper. His government has used every opportunity to dismantle the job-saving supply management systems in Canada. The dairy farmers have much to fear about Harper's deal," said Ken Neumann, National Director for the United Steelworkers.
From what we know, the TPP threatens production and employment in Canada and it will be a critical blow to workers and their standard of living.
This deal will continue Canada's disastrous approach to trade under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, he said.
The Harper Conservatives have acknowledged that the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership will adversely impact the sector, according to Unifor.
The Harper Conservatives announced that, if re-elected, they will expand auto industry programs by $100 million per year for 10 years, beginning in 2017/18, to help it cope with the effects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (including the weakening of content rules and the rapid elimination of auto tariffs).
"We interpret this announcement as an acknowledgement by the Harper Conservatives that the TPP poses a significant threat to Canada's auto industry," said Unifor National President, Jerry Dias.
But others like, the BC Seafood Processors Association lauded the Harper government for concluding the deal.
"The TPP trade agreement will help our processor members fulfil their potential and realize new business opportunities," said Chris Sporer, Executive Director of the Seafood Producers Association of British Columbia, the largest organization of wild seafood processing companies on Canada's Pacific coast.
Canada's Pacific wild seafood industry provides a safe, secure and nutritious food source for Canada and the world.
Seafood is British Columbia's most valuable agrifood food export commodity – about $1 billion per year and wild seafood accounts for almost two thirds of that export value. Japan is B.C.'s most important seafood market and tariffs on B.C. seafood currently range from 3.5 to 11 per cent, while Vietnam applies tariffs of up to 34 per cent, Malaysia of up to 15 per cent and New Zealand of up to 5 per cent.
"TPP will not only enhance our industry's access to key high value and growing Pacific seafood markets", notes Sporer, "it will also help ensure a continued level playing field with our main competitors for these markets."
Different priorities in each member's market
Iain Twine, CEO of Edelman Southeast Asia and Australasia, said: "Because each TPP government is responsible for articulating TPP to their nations, and to ratifying within their local parliamentary processes, there are going to be multiple voices trying to push through or shut down the ratification process.
"Our polling shows that TPP is an issue people care about, and the political process will have to take account of these views."
Unsurprisingly, some reservations remain. Malaysian consumers top the sceptics chart, with just 49 per cent feeling the TPP will benefit them.
Interestingly, awareness of the TPP in business was highest in New Zealand and Japan – 97 per cent – but both countries were at the bottom – 17 per cent – in believing it will be an advantage to them.
"It’s a fascinating communications challenge as well as a political challenge," Twine told PRWeek. "Sitting in Southeast Asia you get a sense of people being excited about it.
"We wanted to find out how businesses will prepare. [The data] helps our clients think about their readiness for when the TPP is eventually ratified. They are looking forward to it, but still holding judgment until the text is revealed."
Chadd McLisky, managing director of Edelman’s Southeast Asia & Australasia corporate practice, said: "Everyone must start to review their reputations and business methods right now. All member markets have different priorities, but ultimately all companies are going to face significant new challenges in their marketing and business operations."
Amidst growing public concern that the federal government is hiding key details of the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership, Unifor has joined others calling for the full text to be released immediately, so that Canadians have sufficient opportunity to study the landmark trade deal well before the federal election.
Why does TPP matter?
Well, it's all about numbers, according to a BBC analysis.
The 11 countries that are currently part of the negotiations are all members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec).
They have a combined population of more than 650 million people. A free trade agreement could turn this into a potential single market for many businesses.
The average per capita income in the participating countries was $31,491 in 2011 and their combined gross domestic product (GDP) stood at more than $20 trillion.
One cannot ignore the fact that the initiative is being led by the U.S., the world's biggest economy and biggest trading nation, and one that sees Asia-Pacific as key to its future growth.
Some analysts have even suggested that the U.S. may be trying to use the TPP as a means to undermine China's growing economic might in the region.
Many believe that other members of the Apec bloc may also join the agreement in the coming years, making it an even more important pact.
In all, 21 Apec countries account for about 44 per cent of global trade. They also make up some 40 per cent of the world's population.
Published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post.
THE Surrey Board of Trade hosted Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama the on Friday (August 7) with over 120 guests where Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Fiji Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, and Inia Batikoto Seruirat, Minister of Agriculture, Rural, Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, and Bradley Truman, Chair of Investment Fiji […]
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-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit