Okanagan business representatives make efforts to tap into growing economy of India

Okanagan business and community representatives attend gathering with India's Prime Minister and Stephen Harper

As ink dried on a significant trade agreement between Canada and India, representatives of Kelowna’s tech and agricultural industries made their way to a state dinner with India’s prime minister with high hopes.

Their aim, explained Kelowna Lake Country MP Ron Cannan Thursday, was to learn more about opportunities for expanding their products into the South Asian market.

“Basically there are folks from the community who are South Asian, who have an interest in finding, and expanding their trading partners, both from a variety of business and agricultural perspectives,” he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also at the Vancouver event for India  Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was held a day after they announced a new agreement that will see Saskatchewan-based Cameco Corp. supply India with uranium to fuel the country’s nuclear power facilities.

While that deal has earned the vast majority of attention, Cannan said there are a number of other trade bridges being built, among which is the “road map” for free-trade negotiations which they estimated will be concluded by September. Whether that date will be met is unclear as even Harper has been quoted saying, “There are many issues to be resolved.”

With recent successes in China, Okanagan fruit growers are looking toward resolution of all issues with a great deal of interest, which is why Kelowna orchardist Karma Gill is among those who are attending the meeting.

He couldn’t be reached Wednesday, but any news he brings back will be met with much enthusiasm.

“There have been test shipments into the market, and there is interest in pursuing that,” said Glen Lucas, BC Fruit Growers Association general manager, noting his organization isn’t formally involved with meetings with the Indian prime minister.

“Our focus in previous years has been access to China, especially for cherries. We’re going into the second full year of that and the industry is feeling comfortable, so we are now looking at other opportunities for both cherries and apples.”

In particular, they’re looking at a growth market for apples, although not too many as the Okanagan apple supply accounts for less than .2 per cent of the world supply.

“We would be looking at specialty markets,” Lucas said. “So that could mean we’re just supplying hotels in India.”

Another potential opportunity exists with  South Korea, he said, noting that  a recently penned trade agreement with them should come into effect in the near future.

“If they are smaller markets, other places like Washington won’t be able to service them,” he said, noting that their size makes them more nimble than behemoth producers south of the border.

India is Canada’s largest trading partner in South Asia, with two-way trade valued at approximately $6.3 billion. Canadian exports to the country totaled about $3.1 billion in 2014 and imports from India almost $3.2 billion.

Free-trade negotiations have moved slowly since being launched in late 2010.

Coun. Mohini Singh was also at the dinner, said Cannon, noting that Mayor Colin Basran was unable to attend.

Just Posted

Car thief nabbed by Mounties on wildfire duty

RCMP working wildfires deploy spike belt to nab alleged auto thief from Oliver.

Okanagan Wildfires: An evening update on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday evening look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Update: Mount Eneas wildfire holds at 1,374 hectares

Fire chief Dennis Craig said wind was blowing the fire away from homes

Update: Power restored to 2,000 Lake Country homes

The cause of the outage is unknown

Update: Okanagan Mountain Park fire holds at 400 hectares

The wildfire, also called Goode’s Creek wildfire, continues to burn near Kelowna

BC Games: Day 2 comes to an end

Hundreds of medals have been handed out at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Update: Wildfire near Summerland mapped at 118 hectares

The Mount Conkle wildfire is 90 per cent guarded

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

RDOS fire update: emergency social services moved

Centre moved to Penticton Memorial Arena for Saturday and Sunday

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

Most Read