Canada halts trade negotiations with India ahead of the G-20 Summit.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has requested a temporary halt in trade negotiations with India just ahead of his planned trip to New Delhi for the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders’ summit. This move was confirmed by India’s High Commissioner to Canada, who disclosed that Trudeau’s team initiated the pause, with the announcement initially reported by the Canadian Press.

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Sanjay Kumar Verma, the Indian High Commissioner, stated, “The Canadian side has suggested a ‘pause’ to the ongoing fast-paced negotiations on an early-progress trade agreement with India,” adding that while he was not aware of the exact reasons behind the pause, it likely aims to facilitate more consultations with stakeholders.

Trade negotiations are intricate and protracted processes, and Canada has opted to take a step back to assess the current situation. A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity during a briefing about Trudeau’s upcoming visit to India, acknowledged the pause but did not provide specific details.

Canada’s Trade Minister, Mary Ng, did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding this development.

Previously, in May, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had visited Ottawa, and both sides had expressed optimism about the trade negotiations. Ng had mentioned that they were nearing an agreement known as an early-progress agreement, which would focus on specific industries rather than a comprehensive, economy-wide accord. She had indicated that the process would not be drawn out over years.

Canada has engaged in trade discussions with India intermittently for the past decade. However, in recent years, Trudeau’s government has intensified efforts to diversify its economy away from its reliance on China. A trade deal with India is a significant component of this broader Indo-Pacific strategy.

Canada is home to a substantial Indian community, including the largest Sikh population outside of India. Consequently, there have been calls for the Canadian government to link any potential trade deal with India to the country’s treatment of religious minorities and human rights issues.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairs this year’s G-20 summit, several of Trudeau’s ministers have already convened with their Indian counterparts during the summer. Trudeau himself is scheduled to travel to New Delhi for the leaders’ summit in the near future, though it remains uncertain whether he will have a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Modi.

When asked about whether Trudeau would raise human rights concerns with Modi, the government official emphasized that the Canadian leader consistently addresses such issues with all of his international partners.

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