Canada eyes India for investment in trillion-dollar infrastructure plan

REUTERS - India is on Canada’s radar screen as it wishes to be a part of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan to consolidate trade and investment ties with Asia’s third-largest economy, Canadian international trade minister Ed Fast said on Friday.

Canada's Minister of International Trade Ed Fast (R) speaks with India's Trade Minister Anand Sharma during their meeting in New Delhi November 3, 2011. REUTERS/B Mathur

India wants infrastructure investment of $1 trillion over the five years starting in April 2012 as it aims to bolster economic growth and raise living standards. Indian infrastructure ranks 89th out of 133 countries, a World Economic Forum report found.

“India has a very ambitious infrastructure plan going forward worth $1 trillion and of course, Canada wants to be a part of it because we are a world leader in infrastructure development,” Ed Fast told Reuters in an interview.

The Canadian minister is on a week-long visit to India to meet with Indian government ministers and business leaders to attract Indian investment to Canada, and press on the commercial interests of businesses in the rapidly growing market of 1.2 billion.

Fast, refusing to comment on the prospect of the recent G20 Summit, focused on trade as one of the key solutions for the global economy to emerge from its present challenges.

“What stands as a real danger is that some of these (G20) economies consider protectionist measures as a way of responding (to economic challenges),” he said, discouraging leading global economies against protectionist measures.

Protectionist measures such as charges at borders, local-content rules, demands that EU firms share their technological expertise and financial support to particular sectors, has had “an overall worrisome trade-distortive impact on world trade and investment,” a report released ahead of the G20 Summit in Cannes said.

After meeting his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his two-day stay in New Delhi, Ed Fast said that both nations are making “excellent progress” on the free-trade deal negotiations.

Last year, the bilateral trade between Canada and India totalled $4.2 billion. With the two countries set to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by 2013, they aim to triple the amount by 2015.

Currently, Canadian goods are levied 16 percent tariff in India while Indian goods face 9 percent tariff in Canada.