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Saturday, Jan 26, 2002

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Canada calls for closer trade ties

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CHENNAI, Jan. 25

TIME is ripe for India to strengthen its economic and trade ties with Canada which is relatively unaffected by the global economic slowdown, according to Mr John Manley, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister.

He made a strong pitch for fostering tie-ups between the industries in Canada and India at a business roundtable organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here. He said that despite the slowdown in the US and elsewhere, Canadian economy was relatively strong. Tax rates are low, and it is one of the G-8 countries that has balanced its budget, he said.

India and Canada share common socio-cultural ties that could be used for strengthening the trade relationship. Both had a large English-speaking population, were members of the Commonwealth, the legal systems were similar, and in Canada, about two per cent of the population was Indo-Canadian, he said.

While the bilateral trade between the two countries is estimated at C$ 1.7 billion, that with China is ten times more, he said. Canada is the sixth largest trading country globally, and apart from its agriculture and natural resource-based industry, its strengths are in aerospace, aircraft industry, telecommunication, electronic industry and power, Mr Manley said.

In addition, it would welcome the Indian entertainment industry to utilise its locales to shoot films. While the Swiss Alps appeared to attract more film-makers at present, he stressed that the Canadian Rockies would compare well with the Alps and would be "a lot cheaper."

Responding to questions from a cross section of industry representatives and the media, Mr Manley said Canada was discussing the issue of reducing tariffs to enhance textile imports. It recognised that the developed countries should provide economic opportunities to developing countries by enhancing access to markets.

The Canadian High Commissioner, Mr Peter Sutherland, said that discussions were on between both the Governments on possible areas of collaboration in the entertainment industry including co-producing television films and animation programmes. Canada recognises the rapid economic development in South India, and budgetary considerations permitting, it would open a trade office in the south, he said.

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