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Business News/ News / India/  India-Canada FTA talks unlikely to resume soon
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India-Canada FTA talks unlikely to resume soon

The negotiations may not restart anytime soon unless political issues between both countries find a resolution

India and Canada, talking off and on since 2010 about a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, re-launched negotiations for an interim agreement in March 2023.Premium
India and Canada, talking off and on since 2010 about a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, re-launched negotiations for an interim agreement in March 2023.

New Delhi: Free trade agreement (FTA) talks between India and Canada, on pause since September 2023, will not be resumed unless political issues that have soured bilateral relations are addressed, two people aware of the matter said.

The negotiations will not resume unless the Canadian government addresses the issues raised by India and the political issues between both countries find a resolution, said the first person mentioned above, who didn't want to be named.

"As of now, there is no timeline for resuming the talks between both countries," the person added.

Spokespersons of India's Commerce Ministry and the Canadian High Commission didn't respond to emailed queries.

Resuming talks

Canada halted the talks in September 2023, after they resumed nearly after a decade in March 2022, stating that both countries would mutually decide on resuming the talks in the future.

Both countries, talking off and on since 2010 about a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, re-launched negotiations for an interim agreement in March 2023.

At the time of pausing the talks, over half-a-dozen rounds of negotiations had taken place.

Also read: India Should Clear the Air on a Killing in Canada

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had during September 2023 expressed concern over anti-India activities and Khalistan extremism in Canada in a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

A few weeks later, Trudeau told Canada's House of Commons that the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and a prominent figure in the pro-Khalistan movement. 

Also read: Canada's worries about Bunge-Viterra deal may force asset sales

Nijjar was designated as a terrorist by the Indian government. The Canadian government also expelled a senior Indian diplomat from the country.

"Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the Government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar," Trudeau told an emergency session of the Canadian parliament last September, adding that his government has declared its concerns to Indian security and intelligence officials.

Change of guard

Following this, Canada removed 41 of the country's 62 diplomats in India after New Delhi threatened to revoke their immunity.

Interestingly, Canada will be conducting its federal election to elect members of its parliament in 2025, which could lead to a change in guard at the helm of the Canadian government.

"The elections could throw up a new government at the helm, which could have a different view (of the political issues with India)," the first person mentioned above added.

Also read: Recalibrate India’s free trade agreements, parliamentary panel tells government

Merchandise trade between India and Canada stood at about $7.6 billion during the calendar year (CY) 2023.

During CY23, India's merchandise exports to Canada stood at $3.49 billion, down 7.5% annually, while its imports stood at $4.10 billion, up 7.43% annually.

During the trade negotiations between both countries, Indian businesses were looking for duty-free access for various products like textiles and leather, and easy visa norms for the movement of professionals, while Canadian companies were looking for easier access in sectors like dairy and agricultural products.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rhik Kundu
Rhik writes about the Indian economy and its crucial indicators. He is constantly navigating corporates, decoding policies, and dabbling with everything in between.
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Published: 25 Apr 2024, 05:26 PM IST
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