India and Canada have concluded negotiations on a Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPPA) that would safeguard investors' rights in the two countries and boost bilateral economic ties.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath and Canadian Minister of International Trade David Emerson at a joint press conference in Toronto.
Nath said the agreement, which is expected to be signed soon, would promote economic relations between the two countries and accelerate two-way investments.
"The agreement, designed to protect investors by defining their legally binding rights and obligations, would give new impetus to Indo-Canada economic relations," he said.
Emerson said the bilateral commercial ties could grow exponentially after this agreement. The deal would protect and promote two-way foreign investment and would stimulate trade and investment with India, he said.
The agreement is intended to protect foreign investments against exportation or nationalization, and improve access for Canadian firms in a rapidly growing Indian market, he said.
"We have both agreed Canada and India have an enormous amount of economic and commercial potential," Emerson said.
He dismissed concerns that the deal would jeopardize the Canadian job market. Indian investment would help Canadian economy and bring more jobs to Canada, he said.
In 2006, direct investment between Canada and India reached 528 million dollars. Two-way trade grew to a record level of $3.6 billion, Emerson said.
Later addressing a function of Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC), Nath and Emerson presented annual ICCC awards to 11 top Indo-Canadians for their contribution in various fields such as business and education.
Bhim Ashdhir, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Excel Funds Management Inc, was presented the award for encouraging and motivating Canadians to invest in Indian equity market. His efforts resulted in over $350 million investment in Indian equity market in the past ten years.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a message commended efforts made by the ICCC in promoting relations between the two countries. His Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper in a message congratulated the award winners and commended their efforts to achieve success in business.
ICCC President Ajit Khanna said the chamber was committed to boost two-way trade and investment. It has taken a number of initiatives with the help of other organizations to boost economic ties between the countries.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the Indo-Canadian community was making outstanding contribution in uplifting the Canadian economy and his government was proud of them.
While Emerson allayed fears of any job loss, Bell Canada employees protesting outside the Metro Convention Centre said they weren't convinced deals like this would keep jobs safe.
Ontario Opposition leader John Tory also said outsourcing jobs to countries like India was a legitimate concern.
"Globalization represents both an opportunity and a threat, and it's one of the reasons why we have to make sure that government policies here keep taxes and regulations competitive with other countries," he said.