'Harper visit to boost economic ties to triple trade by 2015'

'Harper visit to boost economic ties to triple trade by 2015' Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's upcoming visit to India will focus on efforts to triple bilateral trade to USD 15 billion in three years and will for the first time see the two nations talk cooperation in the sports sector, a top minister has said.

Harper is heading to India on November 3 for a week-long visit to the country during which he will be accompanied by five ministers and a delegation of business leaders.

Canada's Sports Minister Bal Gosal who will be accompanying the prime minister, said that Canada has accelerated efforts to capitalise on India's emergence as an economic power and the size of its consumer market.

He said at a dinner hosted by the Consulate General of India in honour of an Indian parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker, Meira Kumar last night, that the visit will be focussed on intensifying bilateral economic ties so as to triple trade to USD 15 billion in three years.

Gosal said for the first time both countries will explore emerging opportunities in sports sector as well.

"Canada did USD 5.1-billion worth of trade with India last year, but almost zero was in sports sector," Gosal said.

He added that he will be using his time in India to offer Canadian know-how in the sports sector, the area that remained unexplored so far.

Canada and India have longstanding bilateral relations supported by a wide range of agreements in fields of agriculture, energy, mutual legal assistance and air services.

Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, said that the forthcoming visit would be marking the beginning of a new phase of deeper engagement and more productive cooperation between the two countries.

Obhrai, who accompanied John Baird to India last month, said that the main focus of the visit was to cement bilateral relationship primarily in the area of trade.

Sources, who did not want to be quoted, said they were hopeful that the Harper visit to India would resolve outstanding issues and finalise a nuclear deal soon.

While Harper and Manmohan Singh, signed the deal in 2010, it has yet to be implemented due to disagreement over how nuclear material from Canada will be monitored.

Canada wants the ability to verify that it is used for peaceful purposes, but India calls that paternalistic and insists its reporting to the International Atomic Energy Agency must suffice.

PTI