India, Canada explore ways to improve people-to-people ties
New Delhi: India and Canada on Monday explored ways to further improve people-to-people contacts and treble bilateral trade volume to USD 15 billion in the next three years.
Canada's Minister of State for Democratic Reforms Tim Uppal and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, during a meeting here, emphasised the need for expanding bilateral trade considering the "huge potential".
"We discussed ways to further enhance trade relations. We felt that there is huge opportunity for expansion of trade between the two countries," Ravi told reporters.
Uppal, a Sikh MP, is here as part of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's delegation.
Ravi said the meeting also discussed ways to improve people-to-people contacts and address issues raised by PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) living in Canada.
"There were also issues relating to PIO card. A lot of PIOs have issues on the card and we discussed ways of sorting them out," Ravi said. Canada has around 8 lakh PIO card holders.
Both Canada and India have set a target of taking the annual bilateral trade volume to USD 15 billion by 2015 from USD 5 billion at present.
Canada primarily exports vegetables, fertilisers, machinery and wood pulp, while its main imports from India are organic chemicals, knit and woven apparel, precious stones and metals, electronics and machinery.
Both countries are holding negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that would yield significant economic benefit and lower tariff on a large number of products for both the countries.
Uppal described the discussions as "fruitful" and said efforts are on to provide further impetus to the bilateral relations.
Ravi and Uppal also deliberated on the outcome of the mini Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) which was held in Canada in June 2011. The mini PBD was organised by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to further enhance engagement with the Indian diaspora.