The Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, paid a State Visit to India from November 4-9, 2012, at the invitation of the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Prime Minister Harper was accompanied by Mrs. Laureen Harper and a high-level delegation comprising three Ministers, five Members of Parliament, two Senators, senior officials and business persons, including four members of the India-Canada CEO Forum. In addition to New Delhi, Prime Minister Harper visited Agra, Chandigarh, and Bengaluru (Bangalore). During his official engagements in New Delhi, Prime Minister Harper held bilateral consultations with Prime Minister Singh. He also called on the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, and the Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari. Prime Minister Harper met the Leader of the Opposition Smt. Sushma Swaraj and the UPA Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi.
The Prime Ministers held detailed discussions on bilateral issues and on regional and international issues of mutual interest. They noted the significance of the visit, marking the 65th Anniversary of the opening of the High Commission of Canada in India. The two Prime Ministers highlighted the strengthening of India-Canada relations, based on long-standing people-to-people ties and mutually-cherished values of democracy, tolerance, human rights, pluralism, freedom of religion and the rule of law.
The two leaders agreed on the imperative to forge a forward-looking relationship by deepening the bilateral engagement at a strategic level and better leveraging significant complementarities existing between the two countries in key areas of mutual interest such as: energy security; agriculture and food security; mineral resources; education; infrastructure development; and advanced civilian, defence and space technologies. Towards achieving this objective, they agreed to intensify their interaction through regular meetings, including dialogues on the margins of international meetings, and to institute an annual strategic dialogue between the two Foreign Ministers, supported by bilateral meetings among senior officials.
Energy and Mining
Both leaders agreed that a key area of focus should be enhanced cooperation in energy, in particular, joint efforts to develop capacities to maximize the utilization of energy resources ranging from oil and gas to new hydrocarbon resources such as oil sands, shale gas and other sources of energy including renewables. To take this forward and strengthen the bilateral dialogue, both leaders agreed to elevate the discussions to the Ministerial level, led by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, on the Indian side and the Minister of Natural Resources on the Canadian side, and to explore the possibility of a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of oil and gas.
Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Harper welcomed the recognition of synergies between Canada’s developed natural resources sector and the growing demand for such resources and related technologies and services generated by India’s economic growth, in particular in mining and energy sectors, including liquefied natural gas. They welcomed ongoing bilateral collaboration under Memoranda of Understanding signed between India and Canada as well as with four of Canada's provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. They emphasized the need to further augment such engagement through long-term commercial investments, joint partnerships, technological cooperation and exchange of best practices in mining and energy sectors including oil, natural gas, renewables and energy efficiency.
Trade and Economy
The two leaders welcomed the substantial progress made towards finalizing a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and expressed their commitment to finalize the Agreement on a priority basis.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress being made in negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and reaffirmed their desire to conclude it by the end of 2013.
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. They welcomed the two successful rounds of the Annual Trade Ministerial Dialogue and underlined the need to institutionalize the dialogue on a regular basis to boost bilateral trade and to realize the enormous potential for bilateral trade and investment flows. In this context, they welcomed the signature of significant commercial contracts and private sector agreements in the course of the visit as a demonstration of the benefits of even greater trade and economic cooperation and a further contribution to prosperity and economic development in both countries.
The two leaders also commended the convening of the first meeting of the India-Canada CEO Forum. The CEO Forum meeting was co-Chaired by Mr. Tom Jenkins (Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Open Text Corporation) and Mr. Hari Bhartia (Co-Chairman & Managing Director, Jubilant Life Sciences). The co-Chairs presented to the two Governments, the CEO Forum’s preliminary views and action plan on measures to enhance bilateral trade and commercial relations.
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. Recognizing the sound health of Canada’s financial services sector and India’s requirement for large-scale investment capital, and the various steps taken by India towards further liberalizing foreign portfolio investment and easing regulations for external commercial borrowings by Indian companies, India invited Canada to consider investing in the Indian infrastructure sector and avail of the opportunities provided by Government divestment of shares in several Indian public sector enterprises. Recognizing the significance and dynamism of India's economy, Canada encouraged India to consider providing increased opportunities for Canadian participation in the Indian financial sector.
The two leaders also welcomed the expansion of commercial cooperation between India and Canada, noting in particular the decision by Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Ltd to establish a urea project worth $ 1.2 billion in the Province of Quebec.
Science & Technology
The two leaders affirmed their support for the Canada-India Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement and acknowledged the increase in collaboration between the scientific communities of both countries. Recognizing the strategic importance of enhanced science and technology cooperation, the two leaders have tasked the Canada-India Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee, which meets in January 2013, to develop an Action Plan that would further strengthen the scope of this collaboration with the goal of promoting basic research, facilitating academic and industrial personnel exchanges, and accelerating technology commercialization.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the completion of eight projects for research in cutting-edge areas of science and engineering, jointly funded by the Government of Canada and India’s Department of Science and Technology (through the DST-CII platform, GITA) and Department of Biotechnology. India also welcomed Canada’s initiative to award $ 13.8 million in grants to set up the Canada-India Research Centre of Excellence (CIRCE).
Information and Communication Technologies
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). They recognized the mutual benefit from cooperation in the Information Communication Technology and Electronics (ICTE) sector and stressed the need to establish a strong and effective business-to-business partnership and cooperation in this sector; to raise awareness among private and public sector stakeholders on ICTE opportunities in Canada and India; and to establish an ICTE Working Group to engage in a wide variety of ICTE Sector related issues.
Recognizing that the number of Indian students studying in Canada has grown considerably over the past five years, with a total of more than 23,000 Indian students currently in Canada, and noting that over 300 Memoranda of Understanding exist between institutions of higher learning in India and Canada, the two leaders identified education as a key area of mutual interest and enhanced collaboration
Canada welcomed the decision by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations to establish an India Research Chair in Humanities and Social Sciences at McGill University. Both sides also agreed to explore the possibility of convening an India-Canada Education Summit in India further to the Canada-India Education Summit in Canada in June 2011, with the objective of expanding cooperation between the educational institutions of the two countries
Recognizing that Canada is a key supplier of India’s agricultural imports including pulses and fertilizers, Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Harper welcomed ongoing collaboration under the Memorandum of Understanding on Agriculture Cooperation. Recognizing the imperative of growing food demand in India and the salience of food security to India’s sustained future development and growth, both leaders reaffirmed the importance of intensifying bilateral collaboration in the area of agriculture and fertilizers. In this context, they underlined the need for closer cooperation in the area of fertilizers, especially potash, as well as dairy and agricultural production, processing, distribution and monitoring.
Appreciating the contributions made to both societies by the community of more than one million Canadians of Indian origin, the two Prime Ministers emphasized the need to further energize bilateral people-to-people contacts and for the two Governments to work more closely to facilitate the orderly movement of people, in particular, students and professionals. They applauded the increased interaction between skilled professionals from India and Canada, and in this context, welcomed the signing of a Social Security Agreement to enable coordination of specific pension programmes in the two countries, for the benefit of working professionals, businesses, and retirees in both countries.
The two leaders welcomed the ongoing effort to update the 1982 bilateral Air Services Agreement. Recent amendments which are being applied on an administrative basis have already facilitated easier travel between India and Canada, permitting more flights to an expanded list of destinations and providing air carriers the flexibility to add new services, including cargo services, well into the future. Subject to a thorough legal review, the two sides also concluded updated Articles dealing with security and pricing to significantly ease regulatory requirements and allow air carriers on both sides to respond quickly to developments in the marketplace.
Audio-Visual Co-Production Treaty
Acknowledging the progress made in the ongoing negotiations for an Audio-Visual Co-production Treaty, the two Prime Ministers agreed that both sides would make their best endeavours to conclude the Treaty in 2013. They recognized that when finalized, the Treaty would contribute to both India’s and Canada’s economies and enhance trade between the two countries.
The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the existing India-Canada space partnership, including astronomy and commercial activities in satellite launch services. Both sides expressed satisfaction at progress in developing an ultraviolet space telescope, soon to be flown in India’s Astrosat satellite. They agreed to explore further cooperation in the years ahead.
The two Prime Ministers congratulated the Defence Research Development Organization of India and York University of Canada for concluding a Memorandum of Understanding to develop collaboration in areas such as chemical-biological defence and the application of research in advanced materials and nanotechnology to defence. They also noted the growing opportunities for cooperation in defence, especially in the areas of research and training.
Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Singh agreed to enhance bilateral security cooperation, including through a dialogue to be led by India’s National Security Council Secretariat and Canada’s Office of the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister. Both countries agreed to work closely together to improve cyber security as well as broaden their dialogue and cooperation on cyberspace policy with the shared goal of an open and secure cyberspace which is increasingly essential to freedom of expression and economic growth. Condemning violent extremism in all its forms and committing to continue to counter global terrorism, they agreed that India and Canada would work together to address this challenge. The two Prime Ministers looked forward to a productive meeting of the Canada-India Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism that is scheduled to meet on November 29, 2012 in New Delhi
The two Prime Ministers were pleased to note that Canada can now undertake its internal processes to enable early signing of the agreed Transfer of Offenders Treaty / Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
Regional and Global Issues
Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Harper affirmed that, as Co-chairs of the G-20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth Working Group, India and Canada have shared stakes in keeping the global recovery on track. The Prime Ministers highlighted their group’s important work in global economic cooperation, most recently through the Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan.
The two sides agreed on the need for greater effort to reform the Bretton Woods Institutions, key organs of the United Nations and other international institutions. In this context, they noted progress made in the reform and renewal of the Commonwealth. Expressing their continued commitment to the Commonwealth’s values and principles, both sides reiterated the importance of democracy and development as the twin pillars of the Association’s strength.
The two leaders underlined their shared commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. They reaffirmed their support for global efforts for non-proliferation and elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. Canada acknowledged India’s strong non-proliferation record and expressed support for India’s ongoing engagement with the four multilateral export control regimes with the objective of India’s full membership of these regimes. In this regard, both sides agreed to hold regular official-level bilateral consultations on disarmament, arms-control and non-proliferation issues.
Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Harper underscored the considerable potential for mutually-beneficial civil nuclear cooperation, based on the early implementation of the 2010 Bilateral Agreement of Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. The two Prime Ministers recognized that both countries were leaders in nuclear technology and services, and that the two countries could develop mutually-beneficial partnerships in this regard. They also recognized that Canada, with its large and high-quality reserves of uranium, could become an important supplier to India's nuclear power programme. In this context, they welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on Appropriate Arrangement and looked forward to its early entry into effect, as well as to the inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee created under the Agreement.
The two Prime Ministers also discussed a range of international security matters of concern including the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, and stability and economic recovery in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister of Canada thanked the Prime Minister of India for the warm hospitality extended to him, Mrs. Laureen Harper and the accompanying delegation. He invited Prime Minister Singh and Mrs. Gursharan Kaur to visit Canada again. The invitation was duly accepted with gratitude.