Kathleen Wynne is Ontario’s travelling saleswoman.
Freshly returned from her second trade mission to China within a year, the premier will again be hitting the road in January to drum up more business for the province.
Wynne will lead a delegation of representatives from Ontario businesses and academic institutions to India.
The premier is expected to visit the political and economic centres of New Delhi and Mumbai as well as Chandigarh and Hyderabad.
“There is . . . increasing demand (from India) in areas where our province has expertise,” said Wynne, noting fast-growing India is planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure in the years ahead and is hungry for Ontario know-how.
“This mission will help us leverage these new opportunities for investment and raise the global profile of Ontario’s businesses,” she said of a trip that will build on her predecessor Dalton McGuinty’s successful visits to India in 2007 and 2009.
With more than 700,000 Ontarians of Indian descent, the province also hopes to economically benefit from the strong ties between the two places and close a hefty trade gap — in 2014, Ontario exported $307 million in goods to India and imported $1.6 billion in products from there.
While Wynne has been premier for almost three years, the political realities of running a precarious minority government meant she had to stay close to home for 2013 and the first half of 2014.
Winning a majority government in June 2014 finally freed her up to pack her bags.
If the past two Chinese trips are any indication, the travel may pay off.
In October 2014, a Wynne-led delegation secured $966 million in deals, generating 1,795 jobs in Ontario.
A year later, the premier’s second China visit resulted in agreements worth $2.5 billion that should create 1,700 jobs here.
That’s significant given that Ontario imported $34.1 billion in Chinese goods in 2014 and exported $2.06 billion there.
“Trade is essential for Ontario’s economic growth and international competitiveness,” she said.
To that end, Wynne will also travel to Israel later in 2016, following up on McGuinty’s 2010 trade mission there.
“Ontario and Israel have worked together on research and development initiatives for many years. This mission will lead to more opportunities for us to strengthen that partnership and forge new ones,” said the premier, who will be in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
While Israel is a relatively small trading partner in dollar amounts — in 2014 Ontario exported just $92.3 million goods there and imported $706 million — it is politically and culturally significant to the province.
It is also a “start-up nation” that invests 4 per cent of its gross domestic product each year in research and development — compared to the 1.69 per cent Canada spent in 2013.
As a direct result of McGuinty’s trade mission, Israel is a partner in the Ontario Brain Institute, an advanced neuroscience research hub.
Wynne said she hopes to expand on his work in the year ahead.
“I am excited to share Ontario’s story on the world stage and build on our reputation as a leader in innovation.”