Trudeau signs $1 billion deal with India but take a closer look at the fine print

It almost appeared yet another vacation for Prime Minister Trudeau, his wife, three children and a pack of cabinet ministers yielded some positive results.

The prime minister announced a $1-billion investment deal with India Tuesday. Wow, maybe there’s some good news coming out of this family jaunt overseas after all.

But don’t too excited. Read on. Turns out Canada will invest $750 million in India in the coming years. India will invest $250 million in Canada. That’s $1 billion right? Call it Trudeau economics.

The news came after Trudeau spent his third morning in India meeting with six of India’s most influential business tycoons, making deals that he says will create at least 5,000 new jobs in Canada.


All of tycoons Trudeau met with in India say Canada is a welcome place to do business and their experiences so far have left them wanting more.


Kumar Birla, the chairman of Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group and the country’s eighth wealthiest person, says the business friendliness of the federal and provincial governments in Canada makes for happy investors who will always come back looking for more. Salil Parekh, CEO of the IT consulting company Infosys, says their presence in Canada will double in the next two years while the pharmaceutical company Jubilant Bhartia says it plans to invest more than $100 million more in Canada in the next five years.

But who came out the winner here?

The government-funded CBC put it this way: “Canadian and Indian companies have signed 66 new contracts worth $1 billion in total in a deal expected to create 5,800 jobs in Canada.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement Tuesday in front of an audience at the Canada-India Business Forum.

“He spent the morning in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, meeting with titans of industry and finance at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, scene of a deadly terror attack 10 years ago.

“Most of the jobs will come from $250 million of new investments by Indian companies in Canada. Canadian companies will also invest $750 million in India. The lion’s share of that Canadian investment is Brookfield’s acquisition of a Mumbai office complex currently owned by an insolvent Indian company.”

So Canada is investing in a Mumbai office complex owned by a bankrupt Indian company and India will invest a third of what Canada provided to Indian companies in Canada. Sounds fair, right?

The meeting was held at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The Taj Mahal? Isn’t that the place Trudeau, his wife and three children were living it up posing for pictures the other day?

Toronto lawyer Kasi Rao, who heads the Canada-India Business Council, said Tuesday’s turnout is a sign of growing interest among Indian business people.

“If you’d asked me whether we could have got 500 people in India for this conference, that would have been a hard sell a few years ago,” he said in the CBC report. “Canadians understand the rise of Asia and why we need to pay attention to India.

What’s missing is a sense of urgency.

And I think on the Indian side, for the longest time there was a sense that Canada is this distant country, and we are only about natural resources and commodities. That perception is changing.”

Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, who had a private meeting with Trudeau, spoke in glowing terms of his experience investing in Canada.

“We have several plans in Canada for three businesses, which is fibre, carbon black and rolled aluminum products,”  said Birla “We are very happy investors. I think just the ease of doing business, the business friendliness of the Canadian government across the country I think is something that is a true delight for an investor. Someone whose tasted that will always want to come back for more.”

But while Rao talked about the rise in Asia, Canadians have to be concerned with the rise of Trudeau’s expense account. Who knows what the final bill will be for this family vacation with a collection of cabinet ministers there too.

Hey, but it was a $1-billion deal remember? It’s looking more, though, as if Trudeau made the deal and Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook for most of it.

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Jeff Wilkinson

About the Author: Jeff Wilkinson

Jeff Wilkinson is a retired Canadian journalist who covered a wide range of political stories over a 35-year career in newspapers and radio. He was at Place du Canada in Montreal in 1995 for the Unity rally on the eve of the Quebec referendum. He interviewed former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and numerous cabinet ministers, provincial premiers and many other key political figures both provincially and federally. Most recently he served in the Press Operations Crews at the 2015 Pan Am Games and 2017 Invictus Games.
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