Virk Puts Trade And Investment At The Top Of His Do List During India Trip

What is the Minister’s single most important objective during the India trip?

By R. Paul Dhillon

SURREY – British Columbia Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk joined Premier Christy Clark on their 10-day trade mission to India, with stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh in search of new opportunities and potential markets for British Columbia.

Virk told the LINK that international trade and investment is a key priority of BC government – and India is one of B.C.’s emerging trade partners so his focus will be on those two key areas. The trade mission will focus on a number of key areas including education, finance, natural gas, agrifoods, clean technology, life sciences and film and digital arts.

“The trade mission is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness for the development of educational partnerships and joint research initiatives with India. I also see it as a great opportunity to promote student exchanges,” Virk told the LINK Thursday.

Virk said compared to other international countries, India has the second-highest number of agreements with B.C.’s public post-secondary institutions.

“As the Advanced Education Minister, I am looking forward to building on the number of education agreements on this trade mission,” he sdaid. “The trade mission is a good opportunity to build on existing relationships, and make new connections to encourage the two-way flow of students, teachers and ideas between B.C. and India.”

A number of B.C. post-secondary institutions intend to sign partnership agreements with institutions and organizations in India during the mission. The agreements will support initiatives such as the development of a dual/joint degree program in international business and the exchange of research scientists to pursue research in the areas of energy, fuel cells, clean energy technology and advanced materials.

“These agreements will help to strength the education ties between B.C. and India, and they will help to raise the profile of B.C.as a high quality study destination,” he said.

Last year, there were 112,800 internationals students in British Columbia – an increase of 20% since 2009-10. Over the same time period, there was a 188% increase in the number of students coming to B.C. from India.

“As the Advanced Education Minister, I hope that the education activities undertaken during the mission will increase opportunities for education collaboration and that more students from India will choose B.C. as their study destination, in support of government’s goal of a 50% increase the number of international students studying in B.C. by 2016,” he said

*What are some of the special initiatives he hopes to accomplish with the Punjab government in particular?

Virk said since there are close economic, cultural and social ties between British Columbia and Punjab, he will be focusing on that region of India for more exchange. Education events planned in Chandigarh, Punjab will provide opportunities to explore further collaboration between post-secondary institutions in British Columbia and Punjab.

B.C. has three Trade and Investment offices in India, including an office in Chandigarh, Punjab. These offices help to strengthen the relationship between British Columbia and India by supporting the development of business and educational partnerships.

“I believe that the activities undertaken during the mission will further cement B.C.’s relationship with Punjab, as well as other areas in India.

Will Virk be making a special visit to the Golden Temple?

“My trade mission schedule is extremely busy. It includes meetings with high level CEOs, chairmen and government officials, along with speaking engagements at key forums and luncheons relating to education as well as other sectors,” he said

“My itinerary includes a scheduled visit to the Sikh Temple Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. I also hope to make another visit to Amritsar, the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion, but a visit to the Golden Temple is not scheduled.”

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