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India, Canada May Resume High Level Trade Contacts At WTO Ministerial In Abu Dhabi

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Canada’s international trade minister Mary Ng may meet her Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation in Abu Dhabi, which opened today. But she has refused to list out the conditions for Canada to resume talks on a free trade deal with India.

“We haven’t made any decisions at this point,” she said in an interview with CTV.

Relations between both the countries nosedived after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’’s statement in Parliament on “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of pro-Khalistan activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.

The Indian government had vehemently denied the allegations and asked Canada to submit proof.

Talks on a free trade deal began in March 2022 when Ng visited New Delhi and were paused in late August after Trudeau’s comments. The minister refused to specify when the free-trade talks would resume and stated that dialogues between both sides were on and that Canada would continue to protect its interests.

Other reports said signs of a thaw have been visible since early this month when former Canadian premier Stephen Harper visited India along with the premier of Saskatchewan province Scott Moe. Ontario’s minister for economic development was also in India recently.

“I’ve been very clear with Canadians who are doing business that they can count on our support, and that continues. We do want to and we are seeing encouraging signs of the investigation that is taking place, of course independently,” Mary Ng said.

Canada has named India a priority market for its exports. India was its 10th largest trading partner in 2022 with Canada’s imports from India totaling $6.4 billion and exports totaling $4.1 billion, according to the Consulate General of India in Toronto.

Recently, foreign ministers of both countries met at the Munich Security Conference. India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar said after the meeting that Canada is taking India’s concerns about Sikh activists calling for the separation of India more seriously. India has always asked Canada to curb protests that threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.

Earlier, Ng had said that trade talks would not resume until and unless the investigation into the killing of the Canadian national was concluded.