Before Justin Trudeau, Narendra Modi meet, a look at India-Canada relations: 10 points

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Before Justin Trudeau, Narendra Modi meet, a look at India-Canada relations: 10 points

A look at India-Canada relations before Justin Trudeau and Narendra Modi hold bilateral talks on February 23.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's tour of India has received tepid response from the Narendra Modi government. Today is the second day of Justin Trudeau visit to India but the government has maintained curious silence on the tour.

Gujarat was the second state on Trudeau's itinerary where his schedule included visit to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, and a discussion on 'Education and Investment Opportunities' with IIM students. He visited Uttar Pradesh yesterday.

The chief ministers of the two BJP-ruled states have stayed away from Trudeau's tour programmes. Trudeau will visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar on February 21. There is no meeting scheduled between Punjab (Congress-ruled) Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Trudeau.

The indifference of the state governments and the Centre to Trudeau's visit is being viewed as protest by India over Canadian government's apparent support to Khalistani separatists. This comes as a surprise as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised high expectations in bilateral relations between India and Canada when he toured the country in 2015.

Canada is home to over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) who comprise more than 3 per cent of its population. The skilled and affluent Indian community is one of the largest immigrant groups in Canada. The community is very active in Canadian politics. Their influence is reflected in Justin Trudeau's cabinet, which has four Sikh ministers.

WHAT CONNECTS INDIA AND CANADA: 10 POINTS

  1. At political level, India and Canada have a strategic partnership underpinned by Ministerial Dialogues on the matters of foreign policy, trade and investment, finance and energy. While at officials' level, the two countries have regular working groups on counter-terrorism, security, agriculture and education.
  2. India and Canada have not occupied high priorities in bilateral commerce with two-way trade pegged at USD 6.05 billion in 2016. However, it has nearly doubled since 2010 when bilateral trade was at USD 3.21 billion.
  3. The cumulative India FDI, as per Statistics Canada in 2016 was USD 2093.53 million as against Canadian FDI of USD 901.1693 million in India. Indian companies have invested especially in the IT, software, steel and natural resources sectors.
  4. India accounts for only 1.95 per cent of Canada's global trade. Major items of India exports to Canada include gems, jewellary and precious stones, pharmaceutical products, readymade garments, textiles, organic chemicals, light engineering goods, iron and steel articles.
  5. India's import from Canada include pulses, newsprint, wood pulp, asbestos, potash, iron scrap, copper, minerals and industrial chemical. India is a significant market for Canadian pulses. In 2016, 27.5 per cent of Canadian pulse exports went to India.
  6. But in November 2017, India imposed restriction on import of yellow peas by raising tariff to 50 per cent. Yellow peas are commonly used as a substitute in gram flour - locally known as besan, which a staple ingredient for many cuisines in entire South Asian region.
  7. This restriction has impacted Canada badly as a large number of Canadian farmers are engaged in its cultivation and depend hugely on India for their income. With India placing restriction on its import, the Canadian farmers had to reroute their produce to Pakistan and Canada at a much discounted price. Justine Trudeau government hopes to get some relaxation from the Modi government in this regard.
  8. Modi was the first Indian prime minister to pay standalone visit to Canada after 1973. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, though, visited Canada in 2009 but that was for G-20 Summit. The bilateral leg of the tour was added after he reached there.
  9. Justin Trudeau's maiden India visit is the fourth visit by a Canadian prime minister since 2003. Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited India in 2003 and PM Paul Martin in 2005. PM Stephen Harper paid an official visit to India in November 2009.
  10. Canada is pushing for signing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) during Justin Trudeau's visit. Pacts on energy cooperation are also high on agenda during Trudeau's bilateral talks with Narendra Modi.

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