Doing Business in a Globalised World

Peter Sutherland, Former Canadian High Commissioner to India, and President and CEO of the Canada India Business Council in conversation
Peter Sutherland, Former Canadian High Commissioner to India, and President and CEO of the Canada India Business Council in conversation

MUMBAI, November 26, 2013 —Globalization has led to a world of increasingly interconnected markets and supply-chains. As a result businesses that once remained firmly domestic in focus have now been looking outward, no longer capable of ignoring the plethora of opportunities offered by emerging markets abroad. In light of these changing dynamics in the global marketplace, stakeholders across the world are searching for ways in which to expand and make the best of new opportunities.

To address this pertinent topic, Asia Society India Centre hosted a private roundtable discussion as part of its BASIC (Breakfast at Asia Society India Centre) series with Peter Sutherland. Sutherland, Former Canadian High Commissioner to India, and President and CEO of the Canada India Business Council, drew on his extensive experience to discuss “Business Opportunities in Asia- Trends and Flashpoints.” Sutherland spoke to the experiences of Canadian companies, many of whom took several years researching and analyzing India’s investment and business environment, before they eventually succeeded in making significant inroads into the country.

Sutherland encouraged investors to take the time to understand Indian markets, stressing the importance of patience and perseverence, when they make the decision to try to invest. He spoke to the areas of development, in India specifically, that could benefit significantly from foreign investment, such as infrastructure, energy and technology, and how having the necessary know-how of the Indian regulatory framework was a must for all investors. He pointed to Canadian companies’ unique familiarity with high level infrastructure projects, given the country’s vast territorial expanse, and how their expertise could be utilized to invest in similar projects in India.

Sutherland then spoke of the important role Canada could hope to play in helping India meet its current energy needs. He emphasised how Canada’s burgeoning supply of natural gas, and its relatively small population, gave it a unique ability to serve as a large scale energy exporter. Given India’s current energy needs, Sutherland spoke to how greater ties with Canada could be mutually beneficial. He also emphasized the environmental benefits that would come from such ties. As India’s current energy supply is largely derived from coal burning, one of the worst sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the far cleaner alternative of natural gas could help India off-set environmental damage while meeting its energy needs.

Sutherland spoke additionally about his country’s familiarity with cold-storage supply chains, and how Canadian companies could use their experience to help India in dealing with its massive problems with transporting and maintaining food supplies. He then went on to emphasize the traditional political connections between India and Canada, but the relatively weak economic connections that had persisted until recently. He spoke largely to the influence of the Indian-Canadian diaspora community, and their role in building greater links between the two nations.

Sutherland concluded by pinpointing education as a critical area in which country’s such as India and Canada could seek to develop longlasting ties. By capitalizing on foreign exchange programs, he indicated that a healthy level of cooperation would not only help students develop the necessary skills they needed for the workplace, but that it would equip them with critical knowledge on how to interact in a world increasingly defined by cross-cultural interactions.

Reported by Uditinder Singh Thakur, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre

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