India’s GDP of 7.5% attracts Canada: Watson

India and Canada have been natural partners in the global economy- Watson

By Deepak Kumar l The Dollar Business Bureau

“India and Canada have been natural partners in the global economy, and India’s current GDP growth rate of about 7.5% opens up more opportunities for the two countries to enhance bilateral trade,” says Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa, Province of Ontario (Canada) in an interview to The Dollar Business.

TDB met Mayor Watson, who is leading a business delegation to explore business opportunities during his visits to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The freewheeling interaction with the mayor ranged across various matters of bilateral interest, but most importantly, the current level of bilateral trade between the two nations, and if he had set an eye on any particular sector of potential engagements. Excerpts:

TDB: Is this your first visit to India—how do you feel?
Mayor Watson (MW): Yes, it is. But, it certainly won’t be my last. This is the very first time when the city of Ottawa has led a delegation to India. So I am very excited and proud be the first mayor to make an official visit to India, and of course, it’s an honour to be here at the Indian High Commission of Canada. Also, Canadian Prime Minister will soon visit India, which I think will strengthen our bonds as we have always been friendly with each other—well, I believe, it’s a great opportunity to increase tourism, trade, and students visa ties.

TDB: Are you alone in this visit?
MW: No I am not! We have delegates from politics, business fraternity, and education, and they are meeting their counterparts, and signing contracts and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs). We have a very vibrant Indo-Canadian community in Ottawa, and India and Canada, have been building onto that.

TDB: What are your views on the Indian-Canadian communities in Canada?
MW: We have some very successful Indo-Canadian members in our business community. Their contribution to the community’s economic well-being is huge, and we have seen that grow in Ottawa. And, that’s one of the reasons why we have been able to attract a good section of man and women from the Indo-Canadian community in this delegation.

TDB: How popular is Bollywood in Canada?
MW: Well, it’s very popular!!! A couple of years ago, one of Bollywood’s award ceremonies was held in our provincial capital. It attracted a really huge crowd in the downtown area. And with that said, we have regular visits from Hollywood and we’re starting to attract Bollywood production in Ottawa too. The reason being, we have an enormous pool of talented and skilled workers, and we’re probably the least expensive city in Canada.

TDB: How satisfied are you with the current level of engagement with India? Do you see any opportunities?
MW: There are several areas of opportunities and that’s one of the reasons why we are leading a business delegation here. We already have significant engagements with India. In terms of other trade opportunities, we believe Canada has very good expertise in wastewater and sewage water treatment platform, one of the major concerns of the Indian government. Also, we are exploring several other areas of engagements and in the next few days, our business delegation will sign several key agreements with their Indian counterparts. I believe there will always be rooms for more trade as India is growing at a remarkable growth rate of about 7.5%. So, it has to be a win-win opportunities for the bilateral trade.

TDB: Is there a particular area of engagement you are looking at?
MW: We are looking for potential collaboration in the field of technology—medical devices and venture capital are other areas where we could exchange our expertise. We are in the middle of establishing a one-stop-shop, much like an innovation hub where the Indian great minds can come to explore their areas of interest and figure out how they can contribute to the economic development of the two countries.

TDB: India is looking to invest substantially in renewable energy sector. Is that also a potential area of engagement you have considered?
MW: That was our key focus when our premier was here a month ago. The government has been very aggressive in exploring the renewable energy market. Turbines, solar, biomass, hydroelectricity; these are going to be our parts of contribution. We have one of the largest solar farms located in Ottawa, and we see that India has a great potential, and we have a great expertise on it. We think this is an opportunity to help India deal with this crucial problem. We also have expertise in solar energy and wind energy; although it is significantly more expansive, but in the long run it becomes economically affordable and sustainable.

The Dollar Business Bureau - Apr 22, 2016 12:00 IST