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Canadian companies risk missing out on billions of dollars worth of investment opportunities in India because they're too focused on the United States, says India's transport minister.

"I'm looking at Canada looking beyond NAFTA," Kamal Nath said yesterday. "I don't think they have looked at India," he said of Canadian companies. "They have heard about India, but they have not looked at India because they have been too U.S.-centric."

Mr. Nath, who is in the midst of a three-day Canadian road show aimed at rounding up international investment, was explaining why he feels the need to solicit interest in an economy that is one of the fastest growing in the world.

His remarks reflect the widely held perception overseas that Canada's economy is an appendage of the U.S., to which Canadian businesses have easy access thanks to the North American free-trade agreement.

Mr. Nath's comments also reinforce Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney's controversial suggestion Wednesday that Canadian companies' aversion to risk is making the economy less competitive. The central bank chief said businesses aren't taking advantage of tax cuts, low borrowing rates and stable inflation to invest.

If Mr. Carney's approach to getting Canadian companies to seek out new markets is the stick, then Mr. Nath comes to Canada bearing carrots.

India's government believes the country needs investment in roads and other infrastructure worth $75-billion over the next few years to maintain its objective of achieving economic growth of 8 per cent this year, 9 per cent in 2011 and 10 per cent in 2012. India can't afford that on its own.