• Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Focus now on Nijjar death probe than resuming India trade talks, says Canada minister

Ng postponed her trade mission to India scheduled in October just days before prime minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement in the killing of the Sikh separatist leader.

(L-R) Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi (Photo by ALBERTO PEZZALI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE Canadian government is more focused on getting cooperation from its Indian counterpart into the assassination of Khalistan separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar than on resuming trade talks, the country’s trade minister Mary Ng has said.

The minister, who is in charge of export promotion, international trade and economic development, told the media on the margins of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in San Francisco that currently, Ottawa’s focus is to allow the investigation into the murder proceed, CBC News reported.

Ng, who postponed her trade mission to India scheduled in October just days before prime minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar that triggered a massive diplomatic row between the two countries, said the probe into the Sikh leader’s death on the Canadian soil is very important and indirectly hinted that the talks over trade could wait for a while.

In September, sources in the Indian government said talks between India and Canada that resumed after a decade came to a halt over political concerns. The words came days after Ottawa said negotiations were on hold. Though the Indian official did not cite the Khalistan issue that has created major differences between the two democracies, he said the negotiations will restart once the “political issues” are settled.

On Friday (17), Indian high commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma said that “whenever there is a decision to unpause” by Canada, it would take “only a couple of months to reach the conclusion” of negotiations for Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA). Ten rounds of talks happened before the pause and according to the diplomat, he could not predict any timeline for the dialogue to resume, India’s Hindustan Times reported.

The EPTA was meant to be an interim deal towards the goal of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Canada.

People connected to the India-Canada business corridor are still not hopeful that talks would resume very soon.

Victor Thomas, president and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council said on Friday that he has told the same to the chamber’s members, the report added.

“Given everything that’s going on, I don’t foresee any significant trade talks happening imminently,” he said.

India reacted strongly after Trudeau’s allegations and after both countries expelled a diplomat each immediately after the Canadian prime minister’s charges, New Delhi also temporarily suspended issuing visas to Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence on its soil.

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