A likely nuclear deal with Canada, along with a possible free trade agreement, was the highlight so far of the visit of Canada's minister for international trade Stockwell B Day and his team to India. Day's particular sphere is the Asia-Pacific gateway.
Canada is in the final stages of concluding a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement with India, Day told a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Hyderabad on Wednesday. "What the Canadian industry offers can be easily adapted for implementation by the Indian industry," he said, adding that Canada is the world's largest supplier of quality uranium.
Canada, a leader in the nuclear industry, could meet whatever needs India identifies in the nuclear energy sector by offering reactors in the range of 250-1000 MWe, Day added. With representatives of the Canadian nuclear industry accompanying him, he held discussions with Indian officials on the opportunities available.
Canadian firms, including federally owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, Cameco Corp and SNC-Lavalin, are eager to forge joint ventures or to work with Indian firms to help build reactors and supply uranium. On technology end, transfer of intellectual property and supply of uranium, there were great opportunities of trade that would benefit both countries, he said. He did not foresee any problem in transfer of technology.
Canada had already ''put out'' its side of Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, while India was finalising its part. Indian officials had indicated that there was no problem with the agreement, which would provide a legal framework for ''this positive and productive transfer of technology.''
Free trade talks: Day, who earlier met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and commerce minister Kamal Nath, said he had instructions from his government to pursue a broader and freer trade agreement with India, and ultimately, he would like see a free trade agreement. ''That's why we have made a policy commitment to open ours doors for trade as wide as possible and see increase in relationship.''
The two-way trade now stands at C$3.7 billion in 2007 and ''over the next five years, we would like to see that triple to C$10 billion,'' Day said. Both governments were also finalising foreign investment protection agreements so that people investing back and forth would have the assurance of a legal apparatus.
He warned that there could be some shrinkage in the 2008 figures due to the adverse conditions around the globe. Day said Canada would keep in mind the sensitivities of India while framing the free trade pact. He was referring to the wide range of farm products that New Delhi may keep off the table to protect local farmers.
Asked if the trade pact could be concluded this year, Day said, "Possible but difficult. It's going to take months." The minister said Canada would like to sign a Foreign Investment Protection Agreement with India by the end of this year.