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India keen to accelerate eco ties with Canada

Toronto: India is keen to accelerate economic ties with Canada as both countries are working on a number of bilateral agreements that will boost trade and investment between them, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has said here.

"We are discussing other instruments to further facilitate greater trade and commerce including a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement," Krishna said yesterday after a meeting with his counterpart Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, who hosted a dinner in his honour in Toronto on Sunday.

"Both countries reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and agreed on further strengthening the relationship as there are exciting opportunities for trade and investment," he said, adding that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit India soon. The minister, who was in Toronto for a two-day stopover visit after wrapping up his visit to the United States and Cuba, invited John Baird, who flew from Ottawa to host dinner to Krishna, to visit India. Baird has accepted the invitation.

The proposed Bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) that aimed at protecting and promoting foreign investment through legally-binding rights and obligations would become reality soon, Krishna told reporters here. "India-Canada relations have never been as close as they are today. These have been sustained more recently by a series of high level visits, including frequent interaction between our two Prime Ministers, both during visits to each others countries as well as at international summits," the minister said.

"Last year was a landmark year in our relations as the Year of India was observed in Canada. It was a celebration of the tremendous space that exists in our bilateral relations. There is immense scope for further cooperation in a number of sectors," Krishna said. Over 200 Indo-Canadians including S M Gavai, the High Commissioner of India for Canada Preeti Saran, Consul General of India Harinder Takhar, Minister of Government Services and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Later addressing a reception organised by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Consulate General of India, the minister invited Canadian investment in India particularly in mining, agriculture, agro-food processing, education and energy. He appreciated achievements of the Indo-Canadian community and ethnic media saying, "We in India are indeed, proud of your achievements in Canada. As a members of vibrant media that takes keen interest on India, you not only cover recent developments in India but also help bring Indo-Canadian community closer to their heritage and to their links with India."

Highlighting achievements, Satish Thakkar, President of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, said: "We work actively to build economic bridges between Canada and India and create conditions to promote a more India engaged Canada." Earlier, the minister addressed a press conference. Replying to a question that Air India strike is causing hardship to Indo-Canadians, Krishna said that he would take up this issue with government.

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