India-Canada free trade deal negotiations stalled over ‘certain political developments’

The negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and Canada have been stalled, sources said on Friday. The sources cited “certain political developments” in Canada as the reason for the pause in the negotiations, and added talks will resume once issues are settled between both the governments.

There were reports earlier that the two countries could reach an interim trade deal by the end of this year. The increasing anti-India activities by pro-Khalistan elements in Canada have cast a shadow on the bilateral ties.

While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in India for the G20 Leaders’ summit, Khalistani secessionists held a so-called ‘referendum’ in Surrey, British Columbia. The separatists used objectionable language against Indian leadership and made remarks against the territorial integrity of India. Prime Minister Modi in a pull-aside discussion with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G20 Summit raised “strong concerns” about the continuous “anti-India activities” by extremist elements in Canada. Prime Minister Modi stated that it was essential for the two countries to cooperate in dealing with such threats.

“The Prime Minister conveyed our strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada. 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,” said an official statement after the Modi-Trudeau meeting.

India and Canada held the sixth Ministerial Dialogue on Trade and Investment (MDTI) in May this year which was co-chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng.

The ministers emphasised the solid foundation of the trade and economic partnership between India and Canada and recognized the significant opportunity to deepen bilateral ties and economic partnership. The two countries were considering an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) to boost trade in goods and services as negotiations continued for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

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