Linking Road

During the accomplishment of the CMA (Certified Management Accountant) designation in Canada, a portion of your time is spent on case writing.  Case writing taught me to ‘link’….well, ‘linking’ is common sense, but in the way they mark the cases, emphasis was laid on linking the alternatives for strategic decisions with the SWOT analysis.

Linking in a case gets you points, however, linking in the real world helps you exploit opportunities and gets you profit (at least that’s the idea).  During my travels to the Middle East and India, I was on the lookout to identify what opportunities exist for trade – Canada with the rest of the World.  While driving through Baroda (a city in Gujarat – ruled by Maharaja Gaekwad, who commissioned a pearl carpet, which recently sold at Sotheby’s auction for $5.5M), I saw a 3 storey white building with a Bombardier sign at the top (Bombardier received a US$55M order from Delhi Metro).  I was happy and slightly surprised to see a Canadian firm have a global office in Baroda – firstly, Baroda is barely a tier 2 Indian city and secondly, a Canadian firm has set up a manufacturing presence in an emerging market that isn’t China.  Canadians, at least over the last 35 years, have not been as global as their southern counterparts.  They seem satisfied with their own markets and are not…or should say, were not as growth hungry.  However, now I’m starting to see Canada being represented not just in India, but globally.

Trade between the two countries (India/Canada) is around $4B, whereas the combined GDP of both countries is approximately $4T, with much of that being grain and fertilizer.  If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then yes…this is just the beginning of things to come.  At a recent Indo-Canada State dinner (part of the G20 summit) in Toronto, both the Canadian and Indian Prime Ministers acknowledged and committed to improving trade and relations.  They signed a nuclear deal wherein Canada would export its nuclear expertise to India.

Canadians are no strangers to the Indian culture.  According to a study, if  immigration trends continue, half of the Greater Toronto Area will be composed of minorities, with approximately 30% of that being South Asian.  With 1.1 million Indians living in Canada, it was only a matter of time when retailers realized that they would have to cater to ethnic needs.  Walmart launched a ‘Store of the Community‘ initiative where it stocks its store with merchandise based on ethnicity in the neighbourhood.  Now you can buy your stainless steel spice boxes, pressure cookers and salwar kameez’s/kurtas at Walmart.  When I moved to Canada, I was surprised to see how well-integrated and represented the Indian community was in Canada – from television to politics.  Locally produced desi shows (Bollywood Boulevard) are aired on regular television (Omni2) in addition to the standard Bollywood movies on the weekend.  Further, Toronto was the host of the global premiere of the hit Bollywood movie – Guru.  It doesn’t stop there – Toronto was selected as the first North American city to host the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) awards in 2011.  In other somewhat-related news, Akshay Kumar has been appointed the ambassador for Canadian Tourism Commission in India.

So how does Canada facilitate trade with India? – enter EDC.  Export Development Canada, a Crown Corporation, offers insurance and financing for both Canadian companies doing business in international markets and for foreign companies looking to develop links with Canada.  Not too long ago, I became a member of ICCC and had the pleasure of attending an ICCC event where the Chief Economist of EDC delivered his outlook for the Indian economy….needless to say he was bullish about India’s prospects.  EDC has expanded its presence in the region and has appointed a new Chief Representative to develop its business.  For all intents and purposes, EDC is Canada’s economic eyes and ears in the region and it will be interesting to witness the growth of Indo-Canada trade flows in the near future.

Disclaimer:  Yes, I know that Linking Road is the name of an actual road in Mumbai.

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