Saturday, November 21, 2009

TORONTO: Canada has announced a new liberal business visa regime for Indian businessmen to catch up with other industrialised nations in boosting
trade with India.

The new visa regime was announced by the government here close on the heels of the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India.

Under the new system, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said applications from Indian citizens for business visas will be cleared within 24 hours. The express visa service offers multiple entry visas to applicants.

Along with the liberal visa regime, Toronto has also announced that a new nuclear cooperation pact and a mutual investment protection agreement was on the fast track. The nuclear agreement will pave the way for supply of enriched uranium for India's civil nuclear energy needs.

"We're actively negotiating a nuclear cooperation pact and have an investment protection agreement, and have established one of our most widespread overseas networks in India, with three new trade offices opened by our government since 2006," Kenney said.

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"We have also decided to double the number of Indian students coming to Canada," the minister said adding that the country is working with India on several initiatives aimed at boosting bilateral trade, currently at a "ridiculously low" level, to around USD 15 billion in next five years.

The minister was speaking at a function last night organised by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce also attended by Indian Consul General to Canada, Preeti Saran.

Describing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to India as "extremely successful, Consul General Preeti Saran said that it would go a long way in strengthening strategic partnership between the two countries. She added that Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's visit to India next month would further strengthen cooperation in the energy sector.

Meanwhile, Ontario Minister of Government Services
Harinder Takhar commended the contributions made by Indo-Canadians in the economic development of Canada and said that India's rapidly growing economy and its commitment to expand investment would provide significant opportunities for investors in a variety of sectors, including infrastructure, education, and energy.

ICCC President Asha Luthra said that Chamber of Commerce has taken a number of initiatives to boost bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, and also highlighted ICCC's achievements in the past one year.