In 2023, the India-Canada bilateral trade experienced a slight deceleration, with a 7% decrease in overall trade by the end of October, according to India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa, Sanjay Kumar Verma. While the total bilateral trade in goods for the first ten months of the year amounted to US$7.65 billion, a decline from the US$10.50 billion recorded in 2022, there were notable highlights in specific sectors.
One standout area was the remarkable growth in India’s smartphone exports to Canada, which surged by over 200% between January and October 2023. The data revealed an impressive rise from US$38.57 million during the same period in 2022 to US$126 million in 2023.
Despite the temporary setback in trade negotiations, with talks on the Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) being paused by Ottawa in August, both countries continue to explore economic opportunities. The EPTA, considered a precursor to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, was reportedly nearing finalization before being put on hold indefinitely.
Credible allegations on India-Canada trade
In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, as the reason for halting the talks. A senior Indian official disclosed that the deal was close to completion when negotiations were suspended.
Despite the diplomatic pause, Canadian businesses remain keen on India as a lucrative market. Pension funds have invested over US$75 billion cumulatively, with a growing perception of India as a favorable destination for investments. The High Commission noted that more than 600 Canadian companies are currently operating in India, with over 1,000 actively engaged in the Indian market.
While challenges persist in the diplomatic arena, the economic ties between India-Canada trade remain resilient, offering potential for renewed negotiations and growth in various sectors in the coming year.