India and Canada have shared a cordial and productive business relationship right since the days of Indian independence and its long-standing bilateral relations have seen a substantial transformation in the recent years, reinforced by shared democratic traditional values, diversity and the growing economic tie-ups. Certain concrete measures have been initiated by both the countries to build a dynamic affiliation by deepening strategic engagement. This will help them to leverage and complement each other's strengths in the key areas of mutual interest such as infrastructure development; education; energy security; agriculture and food security; mineral resources; defence and space technologies etc.

IL&FS has endeavoured to continue to augment and develop the economic and cultural links between the two countries by way of strategic tie-ups with the Canadian Companies. In this regard, IL&FS has undertaken an important initiative by entering into a collaborative MoU in September 2015 with Export Development Canada (EDC), which is Canada's export credit agency established with an aim to support and develop Canada's export trade by helping Canadian Companies respond to international business opportunities. The said MoU includes enhancing the co-operation between India and Canada, with a focus on the infrastructure sector, by sharing cross border opportunities as well as potential of financial support to IL&FS, with respect of procurement from Canada. Pursuant to the signing of MoU, IL&FS and EDC have been working with a collaborative approach for identification of sourcing requirement and introduction to Canadian companies for possible procurement.

The continuous dialogues between both the Institutions have facilitated in culminating a landmark transaction of Rupee External Commercial Borrowing (Rupee ECB) Facility sanction of USD 50 mn in November 2016 by EDC to IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited (ITNL). This was the first Rupee ECB facility for the IL&FS Group as well as the first funding from a Canadian Institution, which has helped ITNL to support its projects without taking any currency risk. "India is a priority country for the Government of Canada. We would like to increase our relationships and our transactions in India. The importance of India shows given that we are the first international financial institution to be able to do a rupee loan,” said Ms. Mairead Lavery, Senior Vice President (Business Development) of EDC on this momentous occasion.

EDC has been instrumental in identifying the Canadian companies to cater to IL&FS business requirements. EDC played a pivotal role in identifying and connecting IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited (ITNL) with IBI Group (a Canadian international professional services company consulting in the field of engineering, planning, transportation etc.). The efforts led to the award by ITNL of a Toll Operations audit assignment to IBI Group for the Pune Solapur road project. In this regard, the support extended to EDC by the Trade Commissioner's Service and Global Affairs Canada (Canadian Government departments) has been appreciative and encouraging.

Ms. Mairead Lavery's quote, Senior Vice President (Business Development) of EDC in this context is pertinent - "Canadian companies are excited about India, considering the growth opportunity and initiatives like green energy and smart cities. They see lots of potential, but the challenge is understanding how to do business in India. If we identify partners, the chance to work with a company like IL&FS is a huge opportunity”.

Another recent engagement is the inking of the MoU between IL&FS Energy Development Company Ltd (IEDCL) and eCAMION Inc to synergize their skill sets for the development of a pilot project for deployment of world-class charging infrastructure for Electric Vehicles (EVs) in India. This landmark MoU was signed in the presence of the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada's Minister of International Trade and EDC President and CEO, Mr. Benoit Daignault.

"It's our constant endeavour to explore cross border opportunities and the MoU between eCAMION and IEDCL is a testimony to our growing partnership. With the assistance of Canadian export credit agency Export Development Canada (EDC), IL&FS plans to tie up with more Canadian firms in areas such as smart cities and affordable housing,” said Mr. Ramesh C. Bawa, Managing Director & CEO of IL&FS Financial Services Limited on the sidelines of the MoU signing.

For EDC too, India is a priority market with focused efforts on scaling business and significantly increasing its lending relationship. "Clean-tech is one of the priority areas for EDC. We are looking at opportunities such as energy storage, waste to energy and solar and wind energy generation,” said Mr. Benoit Daignault, President and CEO of EDC.

Going forward, with such constant and committed efforts by both the sides i.e. IL&FS and EDC, numerous possibilities to connect are envisaged with Canadian companies. The partnership between both the countries will certainly bring substantial opportunities for both the nations to build innovative communities, smart cities and strengthen business linkages.

- Team Panorama

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