Canada woos India with liberalised visa regime; RIL, Essar keen on E&P

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 21 2009, 04:45am hrs
Even as the US has put severe H1-B visa restrictions in the current meltdown, Canada has adopted a liberal policy to attract Indian investors and students there. Canadian minister of industry Tony Clement in an exclusive interview told FE on Thursday, Canada issues over one lakh visas annually to Indians. We have no plans to put any bar on the issuance of visa to Indians. Instead, Canada invites Indian investors, students and other agencies as the Canadian government has proposed a massive investment of over 45 billion Canadian dollars in infrastructure alone in next three years. Besides, the threshold for foreign investment review in Canadian enterprise or industry is being increased to 1 billion Canadian dollar from the current level of 281 million.

In the current downturn, various provinces in Canada are facing serious labour. Clement said Indian companies can participate in a big way in infrastructure development which includes construction, flyovers, bridges, roads in Canada. Indian companies can have public private sector partnership or undertake turnkey projects in the infrastructure sector, he noted.

According to the Canadian minister, Indian majors Reliance Industries and Essar have evinced interest to participate in exploration and production projects in Canada. Canadas Saskatchewan province has recently found abundant oil reserves. Canada expects foreign players involved in E&P to explore business opportunities. Besides, there are other provinces where also Indian companies may tap opportunities as Canada is one of the major players in the oil and gas sector, Clement said.

Moreover, Clement said the Indian companies can participate in 3G auction slated for next year. Last year Canada carried out spectrum auction for 4.1 billion Canadian dollar.

On investment opportunities in uranium sector, Clement said, Canada will allow foreign ownership of uranium mining and production, provided that such investments meet a national security test and that Canada also receives comparable benefits from investor nations.

Canada is the worlds leading producer of uranium, accounting for roughly one-third of total global output. The mining and milling of uranium is a $500-million-a-year industry that directly employs over 1,000 Canadians, many of whom are residents of northern Saskatchewan. Uranium is used in commercial nuclear power plants in several countries to produce electricity, including Canadian-built CANDU (CANadian Deuterium Uranium) reactors, which currently supply about 15% of Canadas electricity, the minister noted.