Canada-India trade talks paused

Lazy eyes listen


India-Canada trade discussions have halted due to disagreements on “certain issues,” Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview with First Post on Saturday.

Goyal’s comments came just days after Canada postponed a trade mission to India slated to visit in Mumbai in October.

“We have put trade talks with Canada on hold,” Goyal said, adding that “we had certain issues that were of serious concern and were highlighted in the bilateral meeting.” Goyal was referring to Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Justin Trudeau’s meetings.

Earlier this week, Indian High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma indicated that the talks had stalled. At the time, anonymous Indian officials also told reporters that negotiations over a trade deal were on hold due to objections over “political developments in Canada.”

In May, Goyal and his Canadian colleague, Mary Ng, released a joint statement saying they intended to increase bilateral trade and investment by the end of the year.

In 2010, India and Canada began negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Since then, Canadian and Indian authorities have attended a number of stocktaking meetings to discuss the issue, which has included cross-border trade in goods and services, e-commerce, telecommunications, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and trade barriers.

In 2022, the parties will continue negotiations on an economic partnership agreement. Goyal visited Canada in May, and both sides expressed optimism about the possibilities of a preliminary agreement being signed soon.

The new suspension in the discussions comes amid a string of unfavourable developments, including tensions with the Trudeau government over what New Delhi perceives as inaction against Khalistan separatists who target Indian diplomats and diaspora members in Canada.

The Khalistan movement is a separatist campaign that seeks to establish an ethnoreligious sovereign state in the Punjab region in order to provide a homeland for Sikhs.