India and Canada on Monday signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as “breaking new ground in the history of our cooperation in this sector.”

Driving home the point about India's new status, he said, “It reflects the change in international realities.”

India and Canada have had a long but rocky relationship on nuclear cooperation after the nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also welcomed the agreement.

Both countries resolved to ratify the accord and complete all remaining steps soon. This is the next step before Canada starts selling nuclear reactors to India.

Canada said the “agreement will provide access for Canada's nuclear industry to India's expanding nuclear market.”

Dr. Singh said both nations also agreed to try and take the bilateral trade up to $15 billion in the next five years, up from the current level of around $5 billion. A comprehensive economic cooperation agreement is also being envisaged and the initial work on it was on.

The Prime Ministers said they wanted early signing of the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement to facilitate its ratification and implementation.

The other areas in which they agreed to increase cooperation are earth sciences and mining, transportation, natural resources, infrastructure, agriculture and agri-food cooperation and higher education.

Referring to the Kanishka crash, Dr. Singh reminded Canada that the victims of the crash “deserve full justice.”

G-20 declaration

Earlier, the G-20 in a declaration, said the advanced economies were committed to fiscal plans that would at least halve the deficits by 2013 and stabilise or reduce government debt-to-GDP ratios by 2016.

To deal with the differences that have arisen over the trajectory of fiscal adjustment, it said, “There is a risk that synchronised fiscal adjustment across several major economies could adversely impact the recovery. There is also a risk that the failure to implement consolidation where necessary would undermine confidence and hamper growth.”

Surplus economies have to undertake reforms to reduce their reliance on external demand and focus more on domestic sources of growth, it noted. The G-20 members also agreed to strengthen the financial market infrastructure by accelerating the implementation of strong measures to improve transparency and regulatory oversight of hedge funds, credit rating agencies and over-the-counter derivatives in an internationally consistent and non-discriminatory way.

No reference was made to the idea of a transactions tax on banks. Instead, the declaration committed the members to design and implement a system with powers and tools to restructure or resolve all types of financial institutions in crisis, without the taxpayers ultimately bearing the burden. However, how this is to be done was not spelt out.

The declaration also made an explicit reference to corruption. “Corruption threatens the integrity of markets, undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust and undermines the rule of law. We call for the ratification and full implementation by all G-20 members of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and encourage others to do the same,” it said.

The next meeting of the G-20 is in Seoul on November 11-12.

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