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Thursday, April 18, 2024

India-Canada relations sour after G20 summit, trade mission postponed

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Canada has postponed a planned trade mission to India amid tensions between the two countries following the G20 summit in Berlin last week.

The trade mission, led by Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng, was scheduled to take place in October and aimed to boost bilateral trade and investment opportunities in sectors such as clean technology, agriculture, and education. However, a spokesperson for Ng confirmed on Friday that the trip was on hold until further notice.

The decision comes after a diplomatic spat between Canada and India over the human rights situation in Kashmir, a disputed territory claimed by both India and Pakistan. At the G20 summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern over the reports of violence and repression in the region, where India has imposed a security lockdown and communications blackout since August 2022. Trudeau also called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and respect for international law.

India reacted angrily to Trudeau’s remarks, accusing him of interfering in its internal affairs and undermining its sovereignty. India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar cancelled a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau at the summit, and summoned Canada’s High Commissioner to India to lodge a formal protest. India also warned that Canada’s stance on Kashmir could have serious consequences for bilateral relations, including trade and investment ties.

Canada and India have a long-standing and multifaceted partnership, with bilateral trade reaching $8.4 billion in 2021. The two countries have also cooperated on various issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism, and global health. However, the recent row over Kashmir has cast a shadow over the future of the relationship, and raised questions about the prospects of a free trade agreement that has been under negotiation since 2010.

Both sides have expressed their willingness to maintain dialogue and resolve their differences through diplomatic channels. However, it is unclear when the trade mission will be rescheduled, or whether it will be affected by the upcoming federal election in Canada, which is expected to take place in November 2023.

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