11 November 2016 07:26:12 IST

Investment will top Trudeau’s agenda on India visit, says Canadian Minister

Both sides trying to expedite talks on a Bilateral Investment Treaty: Bains

Bilateral ties between India and Canada are poised to take a quantum leap with the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India early next year.

Within months of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visiting Canada, Navdeep Singh Bains, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, is currently on a trip to India, accompanied by a high-level business delegation.

Preparing the ground

“My objective is really to get a better understanding as to what is happening on the ground, what opportunities exist, and provide that briefing and feedback to the PM (Trudeau) to set a robust agenda for his visit here,” Bains told BusinessLine in an interview.

Bains, one of the four Indian-Canadian Ministers in Trudeau’s Cabinet, met Jaitley and Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad among others, during his visit here.

The Canadian government recently overhauled its foreign investment rules making it more liberal and easier for international investors.

Recently, during a meeting between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his Canadian counterpart Bill Morneau, both the sides discussed enhancing two-way investments.

‘Open to investments’

“We are open to investments. We made changes to our investment regime in Canada. Investments coming from India will get a lot of benefits. We are also looking at two-way investments,” Bains said.

He said Canada has invested over $13-15 billion in pension funds and intends to continue investing in India in other areas as well. “We just want to build on the fact that Canadian pension funds are investing heavily in India, and we want to continue the momentum,” he said.

Bains said both sides are also trying to expedite the talks on a Bilateral Investment Treaty. He said Jaitley and Morneau have instructed the negotiators to expedite the BIT.

“I think there is a desire to move forward on this (BIT) and we will move forward in a collaborative fashion. The negotiators have been asked to be back on the table. We are hopeful talks will be positive,” Bains said.

Taxation issues

Apart from BIT, the issue of taxation has also been a bone of contention between both the countries, especially issues related to retrospective taxation.

According to Bains, both sides will have separate dialogue on taxation prior to Trudeau’s visit.

Bains said venture capitalists from Canada are eyeing the growing start-up market in India and plan to make large-scale investments as part of the ‘Start-Up India’ programme.