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As happened about a decade ago with China, Canada has been slow to realize the benefits of capturing a share of India’s $2-trillion-a-year economy. With a tantalizing number like that, the Conservative government has been right to make increasing Canada’s foreign trade, especially in Asia, a top priority.
But this policy has only become evident in the past 15 months through high-profile trade missions such as the one Prime Minister Stephen Harper embarks on next week to the sub-continent.
This dramatic shift should have and might have happened a few years earlier. But the Conservatives were hamstrung in a minority government where the desire of some Liberals and many New Democrats was for Canada to continue singing Kumbaya and telling the world how to behave.
Canada’s giddy prospects for greater trade with Asia were brought home a few days ago when, unbidden, one of India’s mostly highly regarded strategic thinkers told me that aside from Germany and some legacy connections to Britain, his country seldom thought much about Europe anymore except in a few fields such as aviation.
The western countries that mattered were the United States, Canada and Australia. This was because they have resources and products that India needs.
Like China, everything about India is big. One of many dazzling statistics is that India has more than 900 million cellphone subscribers — a number many times higher than Canada’s total population.
Despite the opportunities presented by a society where tens of millions have recently joined the middle classes, those Canadian companies already in India believe that many Canadian companies still tend to be risk-averse and overly content to regard foreign trade as doing deals in the United States.
For all that, the successes of some major Canadian companies show what is possible if more Canadian businessmen make Asia an object of desire.
Bombardier Inc., which in various forms has been in India for four decades, is a blue-chip example.
To fend off keen competition from Asian and European rivals, the Montreal-based multinational company has built two railway manufacturing sites in India.
For the rest of this article, please go to the National Post website: http://business.financialpost.com/2012/11/02/canadas-opportunity-to-tap-into-giant-india-economy-has-never-been-better/