The focus of the Canadian government is currently on collaborating with India in the investigation of the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani figure, rather than restarting trade discussions, as indicated by a senior Minister. Mary Ng, Canada’s Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade, and Economic Development, stated at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in San Francisco that the main emphasis is on allowing the investigative process to unfold.
When asked about the potential resumption of trade talks, Ng highlighted the importance of the ongoing investigation, stating, “Our focus is, of course, on this investigation; that work has to take place.” While not explicitly connecting cooperation in the investigation to trade talks, she underscored the significance of letting the investigative process proceed.
Canada had previously put talks on an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) on hold and canceled a Team Canada Trade Mission to India led by Ng. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had cited “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and Nijjar’s killing in British Columbia on June 18.
Sanjay Kumar Verma, India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa, mentioned during a media interaction in Toronto that the resumption of talks, whenever decided by Canada, could conclude the EPTA negotiations in a couple of months. However, skepticism prevails among those involved in the India-Canada business corridor, with Victor Thomas, President and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council, expressing doubt about the imminent restart of significant trade talks.
The relationship between India and Canada further strained following Trudeau’s statement, resulting in reciprocal expulsions of diplomats and disruptions in visa processing. The possibility of a swift revival of trade discussions remains uncertain given the backdrop of these diplomatic tensions.