India-Canada free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations will resume once the political problems between the two nations were resolved, senior officials have said.
“The FTA talks between India and Canada have only been paused and not stopped. There were some political developments in Canada on which India raised objections. For the time being, till these political issues are settled, we have paused the negotiations,” the official said.
The moment the political problems are sorted out, the talks will resume, he added.
On September 1, Canada announced that it had paused its trade talks with India stating that it wanted to take stock of the negotiations.
The announcement seemed abrupt given the fact that both countries had earlier indicated that they were hopeful of an early conclusion of the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA), a limited FTA, the negotiations for which had begun in March 2022.
Some officials had said that the two countries were even looking at excluding ``difficult areas’‘ such as labour, environment, intellectual property rights and digital trade from the EPTA so that a deal could be reached soon. The excluded areas could then be taken up in subsequent negotiations like in the case of India and Australia.
India-Canada bilateral trade in goods reached about $8.2 billion in 2022-23, registering a 25 per cent growth compared to 2021-22, per government figures. India hoped to make gains in areas such as textiles & apparels, pharmaceuticals and iron and steel.
India has been protesting against anti-India activities by pro-Khalistan extremists in Canada for some time. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, raised the matter with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau asking him to take effective action.