Canada, world’s largest producer of uranium, has now become the eighth country which has reached a civil nuclear agreement with India, since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) lifted a 34-year-old ban on India to join global nuclear trade in September 2008. The group members who have already signed the civil nuclear deal with India are the US, France, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.
The deal was announced after the Canadian PM Stephen Harper and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Port of Spain. The bilateral relations had turned sour between the two nations when Canada had severed the nuclear trade accusing India of misappropriating Canadian reactor designs after India in 1974 had conducted nuclear tests.
The two nations were close to clinch the deal when PM Harper was in India earlier this month but some lingering differences over the nature of safeguards delayed the negotiation. The Canadian PM added that it will take “a little time to complete the normal legal text and the ratification process.” While stressing that the two nations have a lot of opportunity for trade and a labelled this as a tremendous step forward.
“Canada is a supplier, obviously an integrated supplier in the nuclear energy field and India is an expanding economy that has great energy needs,” Harper said.
The agreement is likely to be signed in June next year, when the Indian PM will be in Canada to attend the G20 summit. The official text of the deal has not been released. The Canadian side said it would only be released when the legislation goes to the Parliament for discussion. The current Canadian government is a minority government and will require the support of members from opposition in order to pass the agreement.
The agreement will now allow Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials, equipments and technology to and from India. The two nations have also reiterated their resolve to triple their bilateral trade from around $5 billion to $15 billion in the next five years.