New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) India-Canada trade in goods was USD 8.2 billion in the first 10 months of 2023 as against USD 6.9 billion in 2022, registering a growth of 18.84 per cent, according to the government data provided in Lok Sabha on Friday.
India's exports to Canada in 2023 (January to October) was USD 4.1 billion as against USD 3.76 billion in 2022 and the growth was estimated at 9.04 per cent, showed the data furnished by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan.
The statistics came amid a severe downturn in ties between the two countries.
"As per the available data, our bilateral trade with Canada and exports to Canada have registered an increase in 2023, compared to the volume of trade and exports in 2022," he said.
The minister provided the details while replying to a question.
India-Canada relations came under severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations in September last year of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a gurdwara in Surrey city.
New Delhi rejected Trudeau's allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and accused Canada of giving space to Khalistani extremists targeting India.
India has been asserting that its "core issue" with Canada remained that of the space given to separatists, terrorists and anti-India elements in that country.
Muraleedharan said India has been taking up with Canada the reports of hate crimes and other incidents targeting Indians in that country.
He said around 2,30,000 Indian students are currently studying in Canada.
"It is estimated that there are 2,30,000 Indian students in Canada. Safety of Indian nationals in foreign countries, including students, is of utmost priority for the Government of India," Muraleedharan said.
He said the government has been taking up with Canada reported incidents against Indian nationals in Canada, including hate crimes.
"The Canadian authorities are asked to investigate such incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable," he said.
To another question on whether issuance of study permits to Indian students by the Canada has seen a significant drop in the last quarter, Muraleedharan said "we have seen some reports regarding a reduction." "Exact data regarding study permits issued during this period is not available," he said.
"There could be many reasons for the reduction in study permits including deportation notices issued to some Indian students with valid visas, a deteriorating security situation in Canada, increase in hate crimes, and efficiency of the visa issuance process," he said.
Sharing data of Canadian authorities on the total number of study permits issued to Indian students, he said the number was 1,69,330 in 2021, while it was 2,25,835 in 2022 and 2,15,910 in the period from January to November 2023.
"The government is engaged with Canada through diplomatic channels on all issues of mutual concern. We have also asked the Canadian government to take constructive measures to address our security concerns and ensure safety of all Indian nationals," he said.
Asked about safety of Indians travelling to Israel for employment, Muraleedharan said the government accords the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indian nationals abroad, including Indian workers.
"As per the framework agreement and implementation protocols signed with Israel, Indian workers shall enjoy equal treatment with respect to labour rights as Israeli citizens and shall be provided with proper lodging, medical insurance and relevant social security coverage as well as wages and benefits as set out in law," he said.
There have been concerns over Indian nationals travelling to Israel for employment in view of that country's conflict with Hamas militants. PTI MPB CK