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In an exclusive interview, Nadir Patel, High Commissioner, Government of Canada, expressed his views on how experienced Indian companies can pitch in and formulate joint ventures with Canadian companies to take advantage of Canada's billion dollar infrastructure programme.
In the infrastructure space, what opportunities exist for Indian companies in Canada? Canada is investing heavily in the infrastructure sector. Billions of dollars will be spent on roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, ports, airports, urban railways, etc. These projects are typically initiated by the government and will require a wide range of products and services. Canada is also replacing its ageing infrastructure in areas of concerns. As a result, we have created an infrastructure bank, and we are seeking partners to invest for better returns.
Meanwhile, the focus on reducing the carbon footprint in the country will create opportunities for companies with energy-saving technologies. They may include improved process efficiency, innovative products and proven design expertise. Engineering firms will lead the way in introducing these innovations to the market. Canada also has opportunities in mixed-use commercial development.
In terms of competitive advantage for the manufacturing sector, Canada has the lowest corporate tax rate among the G7 countries and the lowest in the G20 region. The country is bestowed with a talented workforce, offers low cost of living and, importantly, access to the North American market through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without any tariff-related issues.
If I may recall, in the year 2014, Canada had a discussion with the Indian government on its Housing for All mission, 2020, in terms of providing technology. Any progress in this direction?
Affordable housing is something we have discussed not only with the Indian government but also with the various state governments, including Maharashtra. Right now, Canada has some unique technology on the platter that will certainly help India's affordable housing space.
Using innovative construction techniques, we are working on applications such as modular housing and wood frame housing. Due to our forestry innovation initiative, the Canadian lumber and technology is on display in Mumbai. We are also working with different cities in formulating by-laws and amendments and providing solutions to build houses at a lower cost without compromising on safety. We are working on new initiatives, and that is where we are seeking joint venture possibilities. These opportunities can streamline Indian companies working with Canadian partners in bringing in both latest and cost-effective technology to India that would compliment India's low-cost housing dream.
In that case, is Canada looking for a two-way partnership, where even Indian companies can bring in their expertise to help your country's vast infrastructure programme? Of course. There are two elements to it.
One partnership is, Canadian companies can contribute with their world-class experience as well as technology in building cities, housing, infrastructure etc. Especially, for a complete greenfield programme, Canada is much interested in working with established Indian partners in infrastructure space, where the partner will have substantial experience in managing labour force and network of vendors, and hold expertise in quicker execution. Another partnership is investment. An institutional investor or a company with sound financial background can form a joint venture with Canadian companies and develop projects.
What is the potential that you see in the solar sector for Canadian companies?
Canada has significant capability and capacity in the solar sector. In fact, we are pioneers not only in the solar sector but also in clean energy and renewable energy at large.
We are actively offering solar energy and wind energy to India in a big way. Companies like Canadian Solar, Sky Power Global and M Solar have their presence in India offering solar energy. Canada is a world leader in producing both clean energy and other forms of renewable energy.
Another area of energy production in which Canada holds expertise is hydroelectricity. Canada is the second largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world and we are actively working with the Government of India and others for bringing hydro solutions to India. We are now exporting uranium to India to feed into the nuclear energy ecosystem as well.
Even if you talk about providing uranium to India, not much of traction is happening as far as nuclear energy is concerned...
I do not agree with this question. A year back, a delegation from the Canadian Nuclear Industrial Association had visited India. The intention was clear: to look at alternate ways to expand our nuclear energy relationship with India. Now we have the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in place and there is an opportunity to see how Canada can expand its relation with Indian establishments. The range of opportunities is wide - establishing new reactor technology, managing waste or relooking other areas that had not yielded tangible results earlier.
Apart from nuclear cooperation, the Indian government is looking at a combination of nuclear and solar or hydro energies, and a number of different energy projects in partnership with Canada. Canada, on its part, is looking at collective opportunities in research and development cooperation.
So India and Canada are working together on many possibilities that can be explored with the long-term goals in mind. If India is taking up capacity-building exercise, we are here to share the best practices in areas that can yield better results. However, this cannot be achieved overnight. If both the countries succeed in building trust, cooperation, capacity, policy collaboration and best practices, we will eventually show quick results.
- RAHUL KAMAT