Ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s seven-day visit to India from Saturday which is aimed at boosting strategic ties with a focus on defence and counter-terror cooperation, the national security advisers of India and Canada met to smoothen out what the visit would entail.
The two NSAs prepared the ground for Trudeau and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intensify defence and security cooperation. India’s concerns over rising Sikh radicalism in Canada are understood to have figured in the meeting held a couple days back, Canadian diplomatic sources indicated.
On trade, the sources said Canadian investments in India were likely to decline in the absence of a mechanism to protect them. Trudeau and Modi may also deliberate, during their talks on February 23, on firming up the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.
The negotiators of both countries met last week to overcome the hurdles in finalising the pact, the sources said, adding Canadian investments in India were around $15 billion in the last couple of years, and a free trade pact will further encourage investors.
In 2017, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and India amounted to $8.4 billion, split equally between exports to and imports from India ($4 billion each).
A number of Canadian pension funds are also keen to invest in India.
The sources said the objective of the Canadian prime minister’s visit here would be to expand overall ties between the two countries with a focus on defence and security, counter-terror cooperation, trade and investment and tackling climate change.
Both sides are also expected to deliberate on enhancing cooperation in civil nuclear sector.
A number of Trudeau’s cabinet colleagues, including foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, science and economic development minister Navdeep Bains, defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, science and sports minister Kirsty Duncan and infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi are also visiting India.
Besides his engagements in Delhi, Trudeau will visit Agra, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Amritsar.
Officials said Trudeau’s his visit to Gujarat will be a first by a Canadian prime minister.
Trudeau, who will be accompanied by his wife and three children, is scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal on February 18. The next day, he will travel to Ahmedabad where he will visit Sabarmati Ashram. He will also visit Akshardham temple in Gandhi Nagar and participate at an event at IIM-Ahmedabad.
On February 20, he will visit Mumbai where he will hold meetings with top business leaders and meet representatives of the film industry to explore various opportunities in the field of cinema.
On February 21, the Trudeau will travel to Amritsar where he will visit the Golden Temple and return to Delhi on the same day.
Trudeau is scheduled to visit Jama Masjid and a cricket ground in Delhi on February 22 and will deliver a lecture at a gathering of Canadian and Indian business leaders.
He will hold wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Modi on February 23.
The next day, he is scheduled to address a conference of young change-makers before wrapping up his visit.
The ties between India and Canada have been on an upswing. Approximately 1.4 million Canadians are of Indian heritage and India is Canada’s second largest source of immigrants. Canada is also a leading education destination for Indian students. According to official figures, the number of students stood at an estimated 1,24,000 in 2017.