Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Canada next week, for a visit lasting from April 14-16, after touring both France and Germany. His priority on this trip is to foster economic ties and to develop energy partnerships, not least with Saskatoon’s Cameco Corp., the world’s third largest producer of uranium.
In 2013, India was removed from a 39-year nuclear trade embargo triggered by dissatisfaction over its first nuclear tests. The thaw began with a 2008 agreement with the United States opening the door to importing uranium for energy purposes.
Pointing out that 25% of India’s potash supply comes from Canada, as well as 40% of its imported pulses, Modi writes on his Facebook page that he looks forward “to resuming our Civil Nuclear Energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear power plants.”
Indian special secretary for the Americas Ramachandran Swaminathan, speaking on behalf of India’s foreign ministry, pointed out that Modi’s trip is the first standalone visit to Canada by an Indian Prime Minister since 1972.
During a Q&A, during which an Indian reporter asks about “hardliner Sikhs” living in Canada, Swaminathan replies “that there are fringe elements in every society.”
Modi’s trip to France saw him meeting in Paris with President François Hollande before travelling to Toulouse, where he will talk to municipal officials regarding one of his pet interests, the smart city. He will then head north to Lille, near which he will visit a World War I monument to India’s war dead.
Modi plans to arrive in Ottawa on the evening of April 14, to be officially greeted by Governor-General David Johnston the morning of the 15th. A working lunch with Stephen Harper will be followed by a trip to Toronto, where Harper will hold a reception, followed by an event at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum, where Modi will address the GTA’s Indian community. The Toronto trip will be capped off by a visit to the Air India memorial.
The morning of the 16th, Modi will be meeting with representatives of Canada’s pension fund managers. As Modi points out on his Facebook page, “Canadian Pension Funds are among the most endowed funds in the world, and potentially a large source of long term investment funds, which can be productively channel into development of our infrastructure sector.”
Canada’s Trade Minister, Ed Fast, was in India last month for the ninth round of talks negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, a massive free-trade deal that has been in the works since 2010 but is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.
Cameco Corp. for its part has been in engaged in lengthy talks to provide India with a long-term supply of uranium.
The only dark cloud hanging over Cameco’s future, from an investment perspective, is its ongoing tax dispute with both the CRA and IRS, which is slated for resolution in 2016 and might result in a back-tax bill of over $1.5 billion, plus penalties for late payment.
Prime Minister Modi will be making stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.