Held biennially immediately after Pravasi Bharatiya Divas since 2003, the Vibrant Gujarat summit is aimed at attracting foreign investment and knowhow into the state.
In a letter to Gujarat industry minister Saurabh Patel, the Canadian high commission in New Delhi has said that Canada has accepted the invitation to “be a partner country for Vibrant Gujarat 2011.”
The Canadian decision assumes significance as major western countries like the US and Britain have avoided dealing with Gujarat after the Godhra riots of 2002. In fact, the US had revoked visa of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2005 because of his alleged role in the riots.
The partnership decision comes within a year of the opening the Canadian trade office in Ahmedabad. The trade office was one of the three unveiled by Canada last year to deepen its trade ties with India.
“Canada has realised that Gujarat is a hub for business in India. It is a major thing for Gujarat and I am sure many Canadian companies will take advantage of the opportunities offered by the state in every sector – infrastructure, education, energy, transport, agro-food and health,” Winnipeg-based Gujarati businessman Hemant Shah, who has played a major role in promoting trade ties between Canada and his native state, said.
Canada is likely to be represented to top trade officials as well as major companies at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit January 12-13.
Bombardier, the supplier of Delhi Metro cars and global transport giant, and McCain Foods are the two major Canadian companies which have already set up shop in Gujarat.
While Bombardier has set up a $45-million train factory at Savli near Baroda, McCain Foods has a facility near Gandhinagar to supply French fries and onion rings to major super stores.
“But with Canada joining Gujarat as a partner for the summit, I am sure other Canadian giants such as BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) will also set up shop in India’s most industrialized and fastest growing state,” said Shah.