Premier Praises India, Promotes Ontario's Strengths
Busy Day In Indian Capital Includes 10 Agreements Signed By Business Mission Delegates
Ontario is determined to play a major role in India's dynamic economic growth, Premier Dalton McGuinty told key government officials and business leaders here today.
"We are here from Ontario -- a large delegation of our finest business people and researchers, educators and builders -- because we are indebted to India's rich history. We are impressed by the exciting India of today and we are intent on playing a bigger role in India's future," Premier McGuinty said in his first major speech here.
"We are focused on areas where we see infinite potential: culture and education, financial services and infrastructure, and research and innovation," Premier McGuinty said.
"But our ultimate goal is to build a stronger India, and a stronger Ontario, by developing the opportunities that will, in turn, strengthen our people."
Premier McGuinty's address received a standing ovation from business and political leaders, including India's Minister of Science and Technology, Kapil Sibal.
India's economy has posted an impressive average growth rate of 6.8 per cent since 1994 following economic reforms and liberalizations.
Minister Sibal told the audience that growth is expected to average nine per cent over the next five years. He said this creates massive challenges for India and tremendous opportunities for Ontario in areas such as energy, drinking water, agriculture and infrastructure.
"We need new solutions, we need new partnerships," Minister Sibal said.
Those developing partnerships were marked by the signing of a dozen agreements between Ontario institutions and their Indian counterparts.
The memorandums of understanding included ones signed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, between PCI Geomatics and Ramtech Corporation, and between several Ontario universities and Indian institutions.
In his speech, Premier McGuinty stressed that Ontario's greatest strengths are the education and skills, work ethic and diversity of its people, including more than 500,000 Ontarians of Indian descent.
"Ontario matters. We're cost effective, we innovate, and we offer access to North America, one of the world's richest markets," Premier McGuinty said. "You will feel at home when you do business in Ontario. We are home to one of the largest Indian populations -- outside of India -- in the world."
Premier McGuinty's speech was the highlight of Emergent India: Now and Into the Future, a conference that brought together Indians and Ontarians interested in working together.
Ontario's trade with India surpassed $1 billion in 2005, but Ontario wants to take business with India "to the next level," he said.
Later in his busy day, Premier McGuinty met with Palaniappan Chidambaram, India's Minister of Finance and Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, and attended an exhibit showcasing the work of Canadian artist Charles Pachter.
He also met with Malvinder Singh, the CEO of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., India's largest pharmaceutical company.
"The Premier and our delegation is getting a tremendous reception," said Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
"This mission is off to a great start," said Harinder Takhar, Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The mission's next stop is Bangalore, home to many of India's most important information technology companies.