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Race for Indian N-business hots up

india-flagThe race among countries for getting nuclear business in India is hotting up with delegations rushing to India to discuss opportunities in this field.

While France has already walked away with a contract in the multi-billion dollar industry, high-level delegations from Britain and Canada were in Kolkata recently to interact with Indian side to explore possibilities for cooperation in the nuclear field.

The visits by the British and Canadian delegations come close on the heels of a similar trip by a team of the US nuclear industry to Kolkata a week days earlier for a similar purpose. The visits by the British and Canadian delegations come close on the heels of the first-ever commercial nuclear trade mission of its kind to visit India, a trip by a team of the US nuclear industry to India for a similar purpose. The mission was initiated by the US-India Business Council (USIBC), the Nuclear Energy Institute and the U.S. Department of Commerce. It comprised more than 60 senior executives representing around 30 world-leading commercial nuclear companies. It was also the largest ever mission mounted by USIBC.

The flurry of visits come more than five months after the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted waiver to India, ending its 34-year isolation and allowing it to have civil nuclear trade with the world.

A 20-member delegation, headed by British Secretary of State for Business and enterprise Lord Peter Mandelson, were in Kolkata in February. The business delegation accompanying Mandelson comprised executives from civil nuclear companies such as AMEC and Rolls Royce.

In Delhi, Mandelson met meet Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and some other ministers. He also addressed the Confederation of Indian Industry Partnership Summit and attended a seminar with the accompanying UK nuclear delegation.

The seminar offered an excellent opportunity for Indian companies interested in the nuclear energy business to interact and learn more about the expertise of UK companies in the sector and explore the possibility of potential business partnerships in this promising sector, a British High Commission statement said.

Canadian Minister for International Trade Stockwell Day arrived on a five-day visit recently along with a delegation that includes representatives from Canadian Atomic Energy Ltd and SNC Lavalin Nuclear and Cameco Corp.

He met Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and is likely to call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. During the meetings, opportunities for civil nuclear trade are expected to dominate.

Ahead of his visit, Day said India is “anticipating the construction of over 30 to 40 nuclear plants over the next several years to produce clean energy. That’s a huge opportunity for Canada, again, on the technology side and the supply side.”

The Canadian side is expected to try to sell a Candu reactor to India, two of which were sold to India during the early 1950s.

Canada, which had been pressing India to sign NPT before there could be civil nuclear cooperation, appears to have amended its position and is keen to have trade in this field with India.

France, however, has already got business in India. Its nuclear company Areva is expected to deliver 300 tonnes of uranium to India in the next few months. Also negotiations are also at an advance stage for building of six future generation nuclear plants of 1600 MW capacity each.