Canada gave a new push to Indo-Canada trade relations when it announced a new visa regime that would allow Indians 10-year multiple entry visas to the country.
The announcement was made by the Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Edward Fast at the roundtable discussion with high-level representatives of the Indian government and business community at the two-day mini PBD Canada 2011 convention, a day for Overseas Indians.
The minister said that the new visa regime would accelerate bilateral trade and investment and cultural bonds.
The convention is being organised here for the first time by the Government of India and the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce and the High Commission of India as part of the celebrations to mark the Year of India in Canada.
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, who is leading the Indian delegation to the convention of the Indian-origin people settled in North America and the Caribbean, said that both countries were committed to strengthen and deepen their bilateral trade.
She said India and Canada aim at a bilateral trade target of US $15 billion in the next five years. Both countries were in talks for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that would yield significant economic benefit and lower tariff on a large number of products for both the countries.
Kaur said that the India-Canada relations had undergone a "sea change" recently. On November 12, 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper announced the launch of talks on the CEPA.
"A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is an free trade agreement (FTA) from Indian perspective. It is aimed at promoting market opening policies and stands to become one of the most important building blocks in constructing a broader and deeper bilateral relationship," she said.
S M Gavai, the High Commissioner of India, said that the new 10 years multiple entry visa would help to meet the longstanding demand of Indians businesses and others who would like to come Canada frequently and would help in 'Building Bridges' between the two countries.
The PBD-Canada 2011 is a conference that brings more than 1500 high-level business and government delegates together, in Canada. It comes just a few weeks before the Bollywood Oscars in Toronto, whose TV audience of 700 million will put Canada, however briefly, at the centre of Indian cultural consciousness.