Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng has delayed the October trade mission to India due to escalating diplomatic tensions. This decision comes shortly after India’s prime minister expressed displeasure with the Canadian counterpart during the G20 summit in New Delhi.
“At this time, we are postponing the upcoming trade mission to India,” said Shanti Cosentino, a spokesperson for the minister, without giving a reason, as cited by the NDTV.
During the recent G20 summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted for brief, informal interaction with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, starkly contrasting with his formal bilateral meetings with numerous other world leaders.
Canada hosts the most prominent Sikh population outside India’s Punjab region, which has sparked numerous protests, straining relations with India.
“They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship,” India’s government said after the leaders met, as reported by NDTV.
On Friday, India announced a pause in trade talks with Canada, mirroring Canada’s earlier decision to halt negotiations for a period of assessment.
The postponed trade mission was integral to Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy, with India being seen as an “ideal destination” for a Team Canada Trade Mission. Canada emphasized a shared goal of enhancing commercial relationships and fostering people-to-people
connections between the two countries.
India and Canada, home to the world’s second-largest Sikh population, have witnessed strained relations due to growing Khalistani activities. After a sideline meeting between PM Modi and Mr Trudeau during the G20, India voiced “strong concerns” about ongoing “anti-India activities” by extremist elements in Canada.
India and Canada initiated trade deal negotiations in 2010, but there was a nearly 5-year hiatus. In 2022, negotiations resumed, focusing on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.