Canada keen to start uranium supplies to India: Envoy

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Canadian supplies of high quality uranium to India are expected to begin once procedural formalities are completed, the country's envoy has said.

Canada is also keen to ship oil and gas to India while deepening its ties in the fields of space, education and food, said the country's High Commissioner to India Stewart Beck.

Speaking at a media workshop organised by the Canadian High Commission and exchange4media in New Delhi Friday, Beck said: "We will soon sign the agreement for supplies of uranium. It depends on the DAE (India's Department of Atomic Energy). Canadian uranium is of high quality."

Last November, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper jointly announced the conclusion of negotiations for the Administrative Arrangement between the two countries that would allow implementation of Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (NCA) signed in June 2010.

On the process involved in supplying uranium, Simon Cridland, counsellor and head, advocacy programme at the Canadian High Commission, told IANS: "The Administrative Arrangement for nuclear cooperation concluded last November. The agreement has to be signed. The agreement has to be in three languages -- English, French and Hindi. We hope to be in a position to sign it soon."

He said all bilateral agreements signed by Canada would have to be in English and French and the agreements with India have to be in English, French and Hindi.

According to the Canadian High Commission, the country's nuclear safety commission and India's DAE will formally sign an agreement with completion of negotiations for Administrative Arrangement.

Following that, the two governments will take the necessary steps to bring the NCA into force in a timely manner.

The agreement will allow Canadian firms to export and import controlled nuclear materials, equipment and technology to and from India to facilities subject to safeguards applied by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

According to Beck, Canada is also looking at the possibility of shipping oil and gas to India and ministerial dialogue between the two countries are in place to discuss trading in oil, gas and other areas.

For Canada, supplies to India could make better economic sense as its current supplies to the United States are at a discounted price.

"The oil and gas reserves are majorly in the Alberta region in Canada which is landlocked. There could be potential for Canada to take this oil and gas to its East Coast and then to India. Currently, our supplies to the US are at a discount as it is difficult to ship the two energy resources to other countries," Cridland told IANS.

During the Canadian prime minister's India visit in November, the two countries agreed to take forward the bilateral talks at the ministerial level led by deputy chairman of the India's Planning Commission and Canada's minister of natural resources.

Beck said Canada was interested in engaging with India more in the area of space and cited the proposed launch of two Canadian satellites by an Indian rocket Feb 25.

He said Canada can look at supplies of components for Indian's space sector.

According to Beck, Canada is becoming an important destination for Indian students as they can get high quality education at half the cost of what they would spend in the US.

"This year, around 14,000 Indian students will be going to Canada," he said.

Agreeing that Canada is in the second tier of countries that India has bilateral trade relations with, Beck said he did not want his country to be at the bottom of that list.

He said bilateral trade between the two countries was around $five billion and the target was $15 billion by 2015.

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