Tense diplomatic relations may not impact trade, investment ties between India, Canada

New Delhi, September 19

The tense diplomatic relations between India and Canada are unlikely to impact trade and investments between the two countries as economic ties are driven by commercial considerations, according to experts.

Both India and Canada trade in complementary products and do not compete on similar products.

“Hence, the trade relationship will continue to grow and not be affected by day-to-day events,” Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava said.

Certain political developments have led to a pause in negotiations for a free trade agreement between the two countries.

On September 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau India’s strong concerns about the continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada that were promoting secessionism, inciting violence against its diplomats and threatening the Indian community there.

India on Tuesday announced the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat hours after Canada asked an Indian official to leave that country, citing a “potential” Indian link to the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in June.

Srivastava said these recent events are unlikely to affect the deep-rooted people-to-people connections, trade, and economic ties between the two nations.

Bilateral trade between India and Canada has grown significantly in recent years, reaching USD 8.16 billion in 2022-23.

India’s exports (USD 4.1 billion) to Canada include pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery, textiles, and machinery, while Canada’s exports to India (USD 4.06 billion) include pulses, timber, pulp and paper, and mining products.

On investments, he said that Canadian pension funds will continue investing in India on grounds of India’s large market and good return on money invested.

The top sectors for Canadian pension fund investment in India include infrastructure, renewable energy, technology, and financial services.

Mumbai-based exporter and Chairman of Technocraft Industries Sharad Kumar Saraf said the present frosty relations between India and Canada are certainly a cause for concern.

“However, the bilateral trade is entirely driven by commercial considerations. Political turmoil is of a temporary nature and should not be a reason to affect trade relations,” Saraf said.

He added that even with China, India has acrimonious relations but bilateral trade continues to remain healthy.

“In fact, bilateral trade is an effective tool to improve political relations. India must make special efforts to increase our bilateral trade with Canada,” Saraf said.

India and Canada have a strong education partnership. There are over 200 educational partnerships between Indian and Canadian institutions.

In addition, over 3,19,000 Indian students are enrolled in Canadian institutions, making them the largest international student cohort in Canada, according to GTRI.

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), Indian students contributed USD 4.9 billion to the Canadian economy in 2021.

Indian students are the largest international student group in Canada, accounting for 20 per cent of all international students in 2021.

Benefits of educational partnerships are mutual and hence the current situation may have no impact on the relationship, Srivastava said.

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