Trade talks won’t resume until India co-operates with Nijjar probe: Canadian minister


Canada’s trade minister has indicated that Ottawa won’t restart trade talks with New Delhi until it co-operates with the investigation into the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

“Right now, the focus for Canada is to let the work of the investigation proceed,” Mary Ng told reporters on the margins of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in San Francisco, the CBC news outlet reported.

“You’ve heard me and the government talk about how important it is that investigation happens given that we had a Canadian killed on Canadian soil. So we’ll let that happen,” she said, taking on a reporter’s query.

When asked to clarify whether she was making a direct link between the need for co-operation on this investigation and the resumption of trade talks, Ng denied it.

“Our focus is of course on this investigation, that work has to take place,” she said.

Ng’s remarks came just before External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in London that India is not ruling out an investigation into Canada’s allegations but wants it to provide evidence to back its claims.

In September, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal confirmed that the ongoing trade negotiation with Canada had frozen due to disagreements on “certain issues”. Goyal’s remarks came soon after Canada canceled a trade mission to India in October, which was to be led by Ng. Bilateral trade between India and Canada reached $8.16 billion in 2022-23.

In Q1 of FY2023-24, India’s exports to Canada were around $911 million, while imports from Canada were worth $990 million.

Canada is India’s 17th largest foreign investor and has been pumping in more than $3.6 billion into the country since 2000.

A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Canada and India is likely to boost two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion, which means a GDP gain of $3.8 billion – $5.9 billion for Canada by 2035, according to industry experts.

The ties between the two nations have come under rough weather following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations in September of “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia.

India rejected Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”. Last week, Trudeau said that a “fight” with India was not something Canada wanted right now but reiterated his allegations and said Ottawa wants to “work constructively” with New Delhi on this “very serious matter”.


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