Canada and India relations
Canada and India have longstanding bilateral relations built upon shared traditions of democracy, pluralism and strong interpersonal connections. Canada is home to one of the largest South Asian communities abroad per capita, with approximately 3.6 percent of Canadians being of Indian heritage (1.2 million people).
The deep cultural and political ties between Canada and India are strengthened by a growing network of official dialogues, agreements, memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and working groups. At the Ministerial level, Canada and India enjoy a strategic partnership underpinned by Ministerial Dialogues on:
- foreign policy
- trade and investment
At the officials level, there are regular working groups that focus on:
Other joint initiatives include an Audiovisual Co-production Agreement that allows producers to combine their creative, technical and financial resources to develop audiovisual co-productions that generate jobs and economic growth in both countries.
A priority market for Canada, India is the fastest growing major economy in the world having overtaken China in 2015. Canada’s commercial priorities in India are targeted at India’s policy objectives and sectors where Canada has a comparative advantage. These priorities include supporting India’s energy security aspirations through increased exports of conventional and nuclear energy as well as clean and renewable energy technology; supplying India’s new and enhanced urban and transportation infrastructure needs through financing, equipment, technology and engineering services; enhanced education and skills training through greater collaboration between Canadian and Indian educational and skill teaching institutions; commercial research and development to drive innovation in such sectors as information and communications technologies; and increased food and potash exports to support India’s food security needs, including pulse exports. (India is a significant market for Canadian pulses; in 2016, 27.5% of Canadian pulse exports went to India.)
Canada is undertaking bilateral negotiations toward both a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Canada also has an advanced suite of bilateral agreements with India that touch on commerce, including the:
- Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
- Double Taxation Agreement
- Science and Technology Agreement
There is also a series of bilateral MOUs that reinforce priority sector collaboration in:
- civil aviation
- information and communications technologies
- higher education
In 2015, India was the second largest source of international students for Canada’s universities, colleges and schools. Finally, Canada and India have a Joint Working Group on Science and Technology.
Multilateral cooperation and partnerships
After 55 years of bilateral programming in India totalling C$2.39 billion, Canada’s bilateral development assistance program came to an end in 2009 following a change in Indian government policy regarding aid. However, Global Affairs Canada continues to provide development assistance to India through Indian and Canadian Non-Governmental Organizations, and through multilateral mechanisms such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Through the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch, Canada invested $3.09 million in 2015-2016 to support nine projects in India, including two scholarship programs in Canada, via Canadian partners like Oxfam-Canada, SOPAR (Société de partage), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Grand Challenges Canada. Grand Challenges Canada currently supports sixteen sub-projects that are testing or scaling innovative solutions to health issues. The main programming sectors of the Partnerships for Development Innovation Branch include innovative food security research, improving health of children and youth, integrated community development, and advancing governance and human rights with a focus on gender equality.
Assistance to India through multilateral programming (2015-2016) was valued at approximately $31.82 million in support of organizations such as the World Bank; Nutrition International (formerly known as the Micronutrient Initiative); the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Population Fund to end child, early and forced marriage; UNICEF; UNAIDS; the GAVI Alliance; the Asian Development Bank; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the Global Environment Facility; the World Food Programme and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
As the principal donor to Nutrition International, Global Affairs Canada is providing $150 million between 2013 and 2019, of which $14.3 million is being provided in support to India. Nutrition International works to improve the health and nutrition of vulnerable populations worldwide, particularly for women and girls.
IDRC continues to have an active presence in India with projects focusing on the links between climate change and migration; the reduction of violence against vulnerable populations; women’s rights, security and access to justice; economic opportunities for Indian workers, especially women; and improving food security. Since 1974, IDRC has programmed $143 million in India.
The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi manages the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) in support of local projects in India with a focus on gender equality, human rights and good governance. Current projects address issues such as empowering women and girls through vocational training, strengthening women’s participation in local democracy, providing skills training to conduct legally valid marriages, informing women of their legal rights and improving women’s ability to defend their sexual and reproductive rights. Projects also aim to build the capacity of local governments and to increase awareness of the laws, causes and consequences related to early child and forced marriage and sexual violence. Canada has funded modest development assistance projects in developing countries through the CFLI program for over three decades.
In India, Canada is represented by the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi. Canada also has Consulates General in Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Mumbai, as well as trade offices in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. In addition, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has a significant presence in India; the High Commission in New Delhi is in fact home to Canada’s largest visa office abroad.
India is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa and by consulates in Toronto and Vancouver.
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