Turning a new chapter in its relationship with Canada, India clinched a multi-million-dollar deal for uranium to power its civilian nuclear programme for five years and also inked 13 agreements on skill development as Prime Minister Narendra Modi after talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought Canada’s “cooperation and investment in every area of India’s national development priority”.
Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Canada in 42 years, said the bilateral “relationship had drifted in the past”.
Modi said Canada has the potential to be a partner in India’s economic transformation and assured a “new environment in India, which is open, predictable, stable and easy to do business in”.
The highlight of the agreements was the $350-million uranium deal that was signed by Cameco and the Atomic Energy Commission of India in the presence of Modi and Harper. It marked a new chapter in India’s ties with Canada, which had imposed sanctions on India after its nuclear tests.
Under the deal which runs through 2020, Cameco will supply 7.1 million pounds of uranium concentrate to India.
Welcoming the deal which has been reached after protracted talks, Modi said at a joint press conference with Harper: “The agreement on procurement of uranium from Canada for our civilian nuclear power plants launches a new era of bilateral nuclear cooperation. It also reflects a new level of mutual trust and confidence.”
Announcing visa on arrival for Canadians, Modi said his government wants to promote people-to-people contacts between the two countries. Canadians can apply online and will be eligible for visas for 10 years.
Modi said India and Canada have complementary interests. “India offers immense opportunities for Canada. Canada has the potential to be India’s key partner in many sectors, including energy, manufacturing, skills development, research, education, and his smart city project,” Modi said.
Apart from this, a number of agreements were signed following talks between the two leaders. These are in the areas of civil aviation and space, skill development and higher education.
In his remarks, Harper said: “Your visit indicates the strong friendship between Canada and India. This is a growing relationship. Trade potential between our countries is enormous.”
Lauding Modi for undertaking economic reforms and his “minimum government, maximum governance” mantra, Harper said: “The historic visit by Prime Minister Modi to Canada combined with the number and scope of agreements signed between our governments clearly demonstrate the commitment of both countries to taking bilateral relations to new heights.”
Modi said both leaders were “absolutely committed to establish a new framework for economic partnership” and that both have “made rapid progress on long pending agreements”.
He said he was confident that the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement can be signed “very soon” and that both sides will implement the road map to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement by September 2015.
Modi said both sides have agreed to deepen cooperation to combat terrorism and extremism. “We will also promote a comprehensive global strategy, and consistent policy and action against all sources of terrorism and its support.”
Both sides have also agreed “on the need to enhance our defence and security cooperation”, said Modi.
“I believe that Canada is a major Asia Pacific power and should play a more active role, including in regional institutions, in promoting a stable and prosperous future for the region,” he said.
Earlier, Modi in an oped in The Globe and Mail said he hoped to make the visit “a springboard” to take the bilateral partnership in trade, investment and innovation to a new level and also that both sides would resume commercial cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
In the morning, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome with full military honours. He arrived in the Canadian capital on Tuesday evening on the final leg of his three-nation tour from Germany and earlier France.
The prime minister, welcomed by his Canadian counterpart Harper, was given a gun salute and also inspected a guard of honour.
Modi also met Canadian Governor General David Johnston at the latter’s official residence, Rideau Hall.
Modi is to head to Toronto — Canada’ most populous city — where he will attend a diaspora event in the evening.