India and Canada signed several agreements Wednesday aimed at increasing trade and co-operation between the two countries, but the biggest one for both countries involves the sale of uranium for nuclear energy.
Canada has been inching towards a free trade deal with India over the last several years.
During an official visit to Ottawa by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, agreements were signed dealing with transport, space exploration, social security and maternal and newborn health.
An agreement with Cameco, one of the largest producers of uranium in the world, will have long term effects for Canadian jobs and Indian living standards.
India’s Department of Atomic Energy has pledged to purchase 7.1 million pounds of uranium from Cameco through 2020.
While the deal is small compared to Cameco’s annual sale of 30 million pounds of uranium, it is the first deal between a Canadian uranium producer and India’s nuclear industry.
“We think this contract is the first of many more to come,” Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel told The Rebel. “We see India as a huge growth market.”
Gitzel pointed out that 400 million people in India do not have access to electricity, something Prime Minister Modi is working to remedy.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall called the signing of the deal with India a good day for Saskatchewan and a good day for Canada.
“It’s a big, big announcement for us today,” Wall told The Rebel.
Wall said with uranium really only being found in Saskatchewan, other prime ministers have not made finding new markets for the product a priority but he praised Prime Minster Harper for stepping up.
Beyond uranium, Wall pointed out that India is a huge market for many of Saskatchewan’s products.
“Out of all of Canada’s exports to India, our province, three percent of the population, accounts for 35 percent,” Wall said.
Currently pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas along with potash for fertilizer are big exports from Saskatchewan to the emerging economy.
Wall said trade deals with places like India might be overlooked in central Canada but are very important to his province.
“When you do a deal with an emerging economy, what are the things that those economies prize? Well for the most part energy security and food security,” Wall said. “That’s good for Canada, because we’re good at food and good at energy.”
Wall agreed that while the deal with Cameco isn’t going to boost business too much today, it will provide stability for jobs and promises to lead to more economic opportunity in the future.