The day-long symposium started at 0900 hrs with the opening session when Shri Arun Srivastava, President of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and Ms. Nadira Hamid, CEO, Indo Canadian Business Chamber (ICBC) welcomed the gathering and highlighted the historic significance of the Symposium when for the first time in the history of bilateral trade between the two countries, a 138-member, out of the expected 150, business delegation was visiting Canada for the Symposium. An equal number of delegates from the local Canadian business community was also present.
2. After the welcome speeches, the gathering was addressed by H.E. Nadir Patel, Canadian High Commissioner to India, who emphasized the need for concerted efforts from the business communities to complement the efforts being made by both the Governments to enhance the volume of bilateral trades between the two countries. He also highlighted the importance being accorded to trade relations of Canada with India and mentioned about the visits of a number of Canadian Ministers to India including that of Hon. Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade for Canada in March 2017.
3. (a) The Symposium was then addressed by Consul General of India in Toronto Shri Dinesh Bhatia, who, while highlighting the growing economic strength of India mentioned that India today is recognized as one of the most competitive nations in the world, providing a strong talent pool in the areas of science, technology and research, as well as some of the lowest labour costs in the world. He further added that India is poised to become the third-largest economy of the world by 2030 and even before that, amongst the top three manufacturing destinations by 2020. India has emerged as the fastest growing economy in the last 3 years with GDP growth rate of more than 7%. Our FDI is up by 48% as compared to a global decline of 16%. Major FDI policy reforms have been made in a number of sectors, such as defense, construction development, pensions, broadcasting, pharmaceutical and civil aviation.
(b) He also touched upon numerous key initiatives taken by Government of India, like MAKE IN INDIA, a program devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub. START-UP INDIA envisions building a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and Start-ups in the country. DIGITAL INDIA launched in 2015, with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
(c) Regarding India-Canada bilateral relationship he mentioned that India's needs and Canada's capacities complement each other. Despite the potential and the healthy relationship between the two countries, India's share in Canada overall trade is just 0.76%. At the same time, Canada accounts for only 0.93% of India's trading figures. He concluded by stating that the symposium will help set a platform for both countries to identify the strength and bridge the gaps leading to stronger economic relations.
4. Shri Deepak Chopra, President & CEO of Canada Post Corporation, in his key-note address urged the business communities of both the countries to go for long-term business relationship instead of looking for short gains and urged established and big companies to use their best available talent to explore the growing business opportunities in both the countries and to address the local concerns while customizing their products to remain competitive in the global market.
5. The key-note address was followed by a panel discussion on exploring what Canada has done to become an ideal business partner for India. The following panelists participated in the discussion which was moderated by Mr. Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of Hill+Knowlton Canada:
i. Ms. Sandra Pupatello, Director of business and global markets, PWC
ii. Mr. Harinder Takhar, CEO PayTM Labs
iii. Mr. Sriram Iyer, President and CEO, ICICI Bank Canada
iv. Mr. Kerry Adler, CEO, Sky Power Global
6. A broad view held by the panelists was that Canada has to look where the future is, i.e. India and to become proactive to tap the growing opportunities now available in India, especially in areas of defence collaboration, renewable energy, smart cities, aerospace, etc.
7. Another panel discussion took place on the topic 'The New India – a changing business landscape'. The following panelists took part in the deliberations which was moderated by Mr. Jordan Reeves, Consul General of Canada in Mumbai.
i. Mr. Amir Singh Pasrich, Managing Partner, I.L.A. Pasrich & Company
ii. Mr. Carl Rodrigues, CEO, SOTI
iii. Mr. John Farrow, Chairman, LEA Group Holdings
iv. Mr. Harsh Dhingra, Bombardier India
v. Mr. Rakesh Nangia, ICBC President, Partner, Nangia & Co. LLP
8. All the panelists agreed with the opinion that India has now become a red-carpet economy from a red-tape economy. The three-Ds that define India today stand for de-regulation, demographics and digitalization. The panel also deliberated about the new laws and institutions put in place by Government of India for bankruptcy and insolvency as well as IPR and Arbitration. The panelists also referred to the impressive track record of the Government of India in the last few years in implementation of highway projects integrated transport systems and freight corridors.
9. Thereafter, another key-note address was given by His Worship, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, who compared the volume of trade of India with Canada with that of China with Canada and urged the business community of both the countries to look for ways and means for increasing bilateral trade between the two countries. He also informed the gathering that Toronto is the third largest technology centre and the second largest financial service centre in North America.
10. A brief remark was then made by Hon'ble Michael Chan, Minister for International Trade, which was followed by an address of Hon'ble Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade for Canada, who emphasized the need of getting people of both the countries involved in supplementing the efforts being made by leaders of both the countries in improving bilateral ties as well as trade and commerce between the two countries. He was of the view that although India is Canada's 8th largest trading partner, a lot needs to be done to increase the volume of trade between the two countries. At the same time, he mentioned about the various opportunities available in Canada for Indian investors. He also informed the gathering that India and Canada are "close" to concluding the long-pending bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA).
11. This was followed by another panel discussion on the topic of 'Innovation driving two-way trade growth'. The following panelists took part in the deliberations which was moderated by Ms. Nathalie Bechamp,Director General of Investment and Innovation, Global Affairs,
i. Mr. Ashish Chauhan, CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange
ii. Ms. Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District
iii. Mr. David Lisk, VP, National Research Council
iv. Mr. Sunnet Tuli, CEO, Data Wind
v. Mr. Sankar Das Gupta, CEO, Electrovaya
12. The panel deliberated on the need for business communities of both the countries to attract the right talent and to lay more emphasis on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to drive the growth of bilateral trade between the two countries. The panel discussed some of the areas of focus like agriculture, clean health, infrastructure to tap the growing opportunities in India.
13. (a) The closing remarks were given by High Commissioner of India to Canada Shri Vikas Swarup, who started with the question, “Why India” and spelt out his answer in the form of “The Remedy” where, R stands for Rule of Law, E for Largest English speaking workforce in the world, M for Market of more than 750 million people, E for Educated Work Force with second largest pool of scientists and engineers in the world with 800,000 engineers graduating from technical institutions across the country, D for Dependable as Indians are the best learners and the most innovative and Y for a young, adaptable work force with more than 50 per cent of India’s population (i.e more than 550 million people) are below the age of 25.
(b) He also elaborated on the various measures taken by the Government of India for ease of doing business in India. He urged the Indian delegates to grab the opportunity for identifying the right partners for further enhancing the bilateral relations between the two countries.
14. The event was a huge success given the scale of participation from both India as well as Canada and high level of participation from the Governments of both the countries. It was clearly a manifestation of the recognition being accorded by Canada to India as a trading partner.