Canada postpones October trade mission to India amid strained bilateral ties

Trudeau G20

Amid growing differences in their bilateral ties, Canada has announced to postpone its October trade mission to India, according to Shanti Cosentino, a spokesperson to Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng.

“At this time, we are postponing the upcoming trade mission to India,” the spokesperson, Shanti Cosentino, was quoted as saying by Aljazeera.

The announcement has come just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly “scolded” his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau during a brief discussion on the sidelines of the G20 India Summit.


PM Modi, according to a government press release, raised the issue of extremist elements seeking the secession of an Indian state. PM Modi told Trudeau that allowing pro-Khalistani separatists to operate from Canadian land was not in the interest of both New Delhi and Ottawa.

Trudeau, who had announced to pause discussions on the free trade agreement between India and Canada ahead of his New Delhi visit to attend the G20 summit, told PM Modi that Ottawa will uphold “freedom of expression” but won’t allow violence on its soil.

Earlier in the day, sources in the Indian government said that negotiations over the India-Canada free trade agreement were on hold, due to objections over “political developments in Canada”.

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In May this year, Candadian Trade Minister Ng and her Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, had issued a joint statement announcing joint efforts to boost trade and investment between the countries by year-end.

India is a big economy and Ottawa was eager to expand trade ties with the country. However, Trudeau government’s relatively soft stand on Khalistani separatists is seen as a major catalyst behind the strained bilateral relations between the two countries.

While Trudeau was in India for the G20 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.

Earlier in June this year, they organized a parade celebrating the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by his two Sikh bodyguards. Recently, a Hindu temple was vandalised in Canada by extremist elements with Khalistan referendum posters.