In a recent turn of events, the long-promoted trade mission to India from the Canadian government appeared to hit shaky ground.
Canada’s federal Trade Minister, Mary Ng’s trip to Mumbai, which was set for October 9th, is now on hold.
Known as the “Team Canada” trade mission, this trip was part of Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
Strains in the India-Canada relations are familiar, but this postponement indicates a deeper issue.
India’s envoy to Canada revealed that the trade talks with Ottawa had been paused, followed by Canada halting the plan for a trade deal with India.
This comes after a frosty exchange between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, during the G20 leaders’ summit.
While the federal level experiences some turbulence, on a provincial scale, there are concerns regarding the impact of these negotiations on trade prospects.
The province of Saskatchewan, which exports heavily to India, espouses a significant amount of concern.
Harrison, the Saskatchewan Trade Minister, claimed to have been kept in the dark about the negotiations’ status.
The Larger Picture & Implication for Business and Trade
Aside from the paused trade relations, other issues are becoming increasingly evident. India has voiced strong concerns over the activities of Sikh separatists in Canada, which has, in turn, raised brows in Ottawa.
On the one hand, Ottawa defends its citizens’ freedom of speech, provided it doesn’t involve violence. On the other hand, New Delhi views the issue as a threat to its national security.
Despite the political strain, Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy emphasizes the importance of their trade missions across Asia, including India.
The canceling of the trade mission could impact sectors like clean-technology, automotive, agriculture, digital technology, infrastructure, and life sciences.
The postponement of the trade mission and stalled negotiations reflect a concerning strain in India-Canada relations.
While political ties might seem tense, the continuation of trade and business ties could provide the antidote to this predicament.