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Ontario Presents Billions Of Dollars Of Business Opportunity For Indian entrepreneurs: Vic Fedeli, Government of Ontario

On the sidelines of his visit, Fedeli spoke to Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld about the rise of Ontario as a potential investment destination and more.

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Government of Ontario was in India recently to meet Indian investors and present Ontario as a potential investment destination.

During his visit, the Minister met several prominent Indian companies to discuss shared strengths in Automotive, ICT, and Infrastructure, as well as highlighting Ontario’s stellar talent pool and the culture of innovation,

On the sidelines of his visit, Fedeli spoke to Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld about the rise of Ontario as a potential investment destination and more.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

What are your expectations from this visit vis-à-vis business collaborations? 

The province I represent is Ontario and it is about 40 percent of population and business of Canada and we see great opportunity for infrastructure and technology sector. We want to enhance both these sectors.

We brought a trade mission with us. We have 12 Ontario businesses specifically in technology, infrastructure and to meet other business organisations in India. Our government is having business to business meetings here, looking to expand our exports to India and frankly our imports from India as well.

There is certain conversation about India in the West, especially in Canada. Tell us about your top 5 impressions of India?

I would say the warmth of the people. In Ontario we have 8,30,000 people of Indian origin living in Ontario. We have 1,70,000 tourists from India every year. So this place is so familiar and so is the warmth, the friendliness, the beauty, the architecture and the history. Also, it is very different since my last time, I can see far more infrastructure development now.

What do you admire about Narendra Modi as a leader and what could he do better?

Last time when I was here I met Prime Minister Modi at his home. I found him to be very warm, caring and sincere individual who has a vision for India, to serve the people of India. I see it in his eyes that he really wants this vision to develop and that’s why we are here to help on some of these very specific initiatives in terms of infrastructure.

What makes Canada an attractive destination for business for Indians?

Our leader Justin Tredeau has proclaimed Ontario open for business, jobs and trade. Our government is only months old and we have already carved 500 billion dollars out of the cost of doing business, these are few of the government costs tax reductions, premiums and other fees all have been decreased, to lower the cost of doing business. It really has made Ontario business friendly after so many years.

What would be your message to Indian entrepreneurs?

 I will do it in one word and then an expression— NAFTA: North America Free Trade Agreement. Two things are new. One is that in the auto –sector, the parts must be more locally produced. The number will go up from 62 and a half percent to 75 percent. So that is a part of the answer. The other part is that Ontario, with all the free agreements we have with NAFTA and all around the world, you have billions of dollars of business opportunity waiting for Indian entrepreneurs.

In your view, are there any new sets of skills that the leaders today need to imbibe?

 I will be a little selfish in my answer. We are business people, entrepreneurs and that is why our government is open to jobs, trade and business. We understand that, this is what is going to make our business grow and I can tell you after we have reduced the cost of doing business in Ontario, in 15 months, the business community has responded by hiring 256,000 people.

President Trump has this policy of ‘America First’. Would you say that at some stage you would also follow a police of ‘Canada First’ or ‘Ontario First’?

I think for us it is ‘People First’. We work in our government for the people, and I think that is the best way in which we can approach anything we do. In our schools, it’s for the kids, in our hospitals, it’s for the patients. We put people at the head of whatever decisions we make.

How would you judge the success of this trip? In future where would you like to see the investments made here?

We now have a baseline. We know our numbers. And I was quite surprised to know how low the imports from Ontario to India are. I want to see that number rise.

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