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Industry & Economy - Foreign Trade


Canada looking at Indian market

Sridhar Krishnaswami

Ottawa , March 12

CANADA is committed to explore the emerging market situation in India and will be pursuing an `aggressive' strategy that will, among other things, see the pumping in of more resources and utilising the Indian diaspora, says the Minister of State in Charge of New and Emerging Markets, Mr Gar Knutson.

Stressing that the past political baggage were behind - as it pertains to the nuclear issue - and in the realisation that there will be differences in the bilateral relationship which will have to be seen in the context of a "stronger, deeper and a higher quality relationship", the Minister argued that there are no second thoughts in looking at the Indian market.

"We are re-committed. Now we are committed to the long term. We understand that we have to be competitive and there has to be a business case.

"We are proud of the Canadian know-how and expertise. But we can't assume it's better than Indian know-how or expertise... or people we are competing with," Mr Knutson told two Washington based correspondents in a meeting here going on to make the point that Canada was not at any disadvantage, there was no bias and that the playing field is `pretty' level.

In the course of the conversation Mr Knutson made it clear that the government of Paul Martin has assigned India a very high priority in its economic and business calculations.

In fact the Minister has been specifically put in charge of New and Emerging Markets with a premium focus on India, China and Brazil.

Going by the size and the changes that have taken place in the last ten years in India and in what is anticipated in the next 10 to 20 years, Canada is making sure that it is a direct participant in India's transformation and expansion, Mr Knutson said.

There is a full range of sectors that Canada is actively interested in but in a realisation that to be successful there would have to be specificity of areas.

And some of the areas that Ottawa would like to tap into are information technology and high technology with a view to "cross fertilising" the strengths of the two countries in this domain; film and cultural industries, key infrastructure projects that would include airports building and

modernisation and the ongoing deep interest in the selling of Canadian products whether it was pulp and paper or planes.

"We are not going to win every time. But I think we are going to come up with our share...with a bigger share with a well thought out government agenda," Mr Knutson remarked acknowledging that while Canada may have already `lost out' in the lucrative markets of India but determined to take advantage of every single that came its way including its involvement in other countries.

Mr Knutson was quite forthcoming on the subject of outsourcing, which is a highly contentious and vicious topic in an election year in the US. The Minister maintained that the controversy over outsourcing is an "American phenomenon" which has not "impacted on the Canadian mindset".

The crux of his argument was that outsourcing did result in individuals losing their jobs; but in an overall sense `people' come out ahead; and prudent public policy will have to handle the transitional phase of people losing their jobs.

"Outsourcing is just the latest version of transformation of moving up into higher value added jobs that lead to a higher standard of living. It is recognising that it is all part of a free flow competitive market and that while individuals can suffer under that...at the end, in a general sense, people come out ahead," Mr Knutson said.

"The key from a public policy point of view is to have appropriate programmes in place that allow individuals to make the transition," he remarked.

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