New Delhi: Two years after it was inked, India and Canada on Tuesday concluded negotiations for effective operationalization of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which will pave the way for Canadian firms to soon be able to export uranium and nuclear reactors.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper held discussions on regional, international and key bilateral issues of security and trade after which three pacts were inked between the two countries, including one on social security.
Noting that he and Harper had a "comprehensive review of our wide-ranging partnership", Singh, at a media event, said "we agreed to institute a strategic dialogue at the level of Foreign Ministers. We identified energy cooperation, particularly exports of Canadian oil and natural gas as well as renewable energy cooperation, as an area with enormous potential.
A ministerial-level energy dialogue will supplement the strategic dialogue and promote specific projects. We also welcomed the recent progress made towards concluding the modalities for the effective operationalization of the agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation that we had signed in 2010."
Harper said "our government is committed to promoting greater trade and investment with India....The conclusion of the Administrative Arrangement with India will facilitate opportunities for Canadian companies to play a greater role in meeting India’s growing energy needs.
"It is expected to generate millions of dollars in new business contacts between our countries and to create high- quality new jobs here at home."
The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement ‘together with the Administrative Arrangement through which it will be implemented’ will allow Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials, equipment and technology to and from India to facilities under safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The two countries have also set up a joint committee to
work on the needs and requirements under the civil nuclear cooperation pact.
The two leaders agreed on the imperative to forge a forward-looking relationship by deepening bilateral engagement at a strategic level and better leveraging significant complementarities existing between the two countries in key areas of mutual interest like energy security, agriculture and food security, mineral resources, education, infrastructure development, and advanced civilian, defence and space technologies, a joint statement said.
Towards achieving this objective, they agreed to intensify their interaction through regular meetings, including dialogues on the margins of international meetings, and to institute an annual strategic dialogue between the two Foreign Ministers, supported by bilateral meetings among senior officials.
The three pacts signed were --Agreement on Social Security, MOU on cooperation in Information Communication Technology and Electronics and MOU between DRDO and York University, Canada, for cooperation in the areas of Joint Research and Development in Defence Science & Technology.
The social security agreement will exempt Indian professionals on a short-term visa from paying for social security benefits, besides letting them repatriate the money they have invested in similar schemes.
"The large Indian origin community in Canada and the people-to-people interaction this has fostered has played a vital role in strengthening our relations. The Social Security Agreement that has been signed today will be of enormous benefit to many expatriate professionals in both countries," Singh said.
The MOU between DRDO and York University is a foray into bilateral defence technology cooperation where Canadian prowess is widely acknowledged.
The two Prime Ministers congratulated DRDO and York
University of Canada for concluding an MoU to develop collaboration in areas such as chemical-biological defence and the application of research in advanced materials and nanotechnology to defence.
They also noted the growing opportunities for cooperation in defence, especially in the areas of research and training.
The two leaders agreed to enhance bilateral security cooperation, including through a dialogue to be led by India’s National Security Council Secretariat and Canada’s Office of the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister.
"Both the countries agreed to work closely together to improve cyber security as well as broaden their dialogue and cooperation on cyberspace policy with the shared goal of an open and secure cyberspace which is increasingly essential to freedom of expression and economic growth".
Condemning violent extremism in all its forms and committing to continue to counter global terrorism, they agreed India and Canada would work together to address this challenge.
The two Prime Ministers looked forward to a productive meeting of the Canada-India Joint Working Group on Counter- Terrorism that is scheduled to meet on November 29 here.
The two Prime Ministers were happy to note that Canada can now undertake its internal processes to enable early signing of the agreed Transfer of Offenders Treaty/Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
The two Prime Ministers also agreed that a key area of
focus should be enhanced cooperation in energy, in particular, joint efforts to develop capacities to maximize utilization of energy resources ranging from oil and gas to new hydrocarbon resources such as oil sands, shale gas and other sources of energy including renewables.
"To take this forward and strengthen the bilateral dialogue, both leaders agreed to elevate the discussions to the ministerial level, led by the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, on the Indian side and the Minister of Natural Resources on the Canadian side, and to explore the possibility of an MoU in the field of oil and gas," the statement said.
The two leaders welcomed the substantial progress made towards finalizing a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and expressed their commitment to finalize the agreement on a priority basis.
On trade front, Singh and Harper reaffirmed their desire to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of 2013 and reiterated their shared desire to see bilateral trade reach USD 15 billion by 2015.