Toronto, Nov 15 (IANS) Trade with India could be new Silk Route for Canada, according to a report by the country’s top TV network.
Hailing the beginning of talks for a free trade agreement between the two countries, Canada’s CTV network said, ‘Canada and India are ideal trade partners that simply don’t trade enough. So Canadians should welcome the initiation of free trade talks between the two countries as a great economic opportunity.”
It said though India is still a poor country, ‘but the potential in India is great. It is growing at an annual rate of 7 to 8 per cent. There is a growing middle-class; the low-wage Indian call centre is being supplanted by higher wage, high-skill service jobs.”
As India grows and diversifies, it said, it will need more of Canada’s commodities and manufactured goods, such as oilseeds and chemicals. ‘But its middle class will need access to the tools of a modern economy, such as financial, educational and telecommunications services, all areas of Canadian strength.”
With India liberalizing already and its customs duties down by almost two-thirds in the last ten years, the news network said, ‘There is a political opportunity with Manmohan Singh, the pro-free trade Prime Minister whose government is not currently dependent on protectionist factions.”
It said Canada should realize opportunities in India, ‘which are needed if our economy is to be less dependent on US trade. Australia trades three times as much with India as Canada does. Even Belgium trades more with India. And Indians are doing more direct investment in Canada than Canada is doing in India.”
The network said, ‘ The Indian diaspora in Canada is one of the world’s largest, around one million strong, which can further trade ties. For Canada, India can be a springboard to the rest of South and South East Asia. For India, Canada is an entry point into the American market.”
Since agricultural tariffs may be an irritant, the report said the two countries should focus on reducing other tariffs, and non-tariff barriers such as visa restrictions for those engaged in commerce.
‘A free trade agreement will open up new markets for people in both countries and that is one opportunity Canadians should embrace,” the network said.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)