India slows lentil imports from Canada amid Sikh separatist killing row

“Industry officials are concerned that there could be trade restrictions by the governments owing to current tensions between the countries,” said Nitin Gupta, senior vice-president of Olam Agri India, a major importer.

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There are no such plans by India and Delhi has not instructed importers to refrain from purchases, said a senior Indian government official, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

The Indian government has suspended issuing visas to Canadians and each country has expelled some diplomats.

Canada is not currently taking any action that would directly affect trade with India, said an official with the Canadian Global Affairs department, declining to be named.

Indian buyers bought significant supplies of Canadian lentils earlier in the year for delivery after harvest, said Kevin Price, senior export merchant at Winnipeg-based crop trader Parrish & Heimbecker.


India’s Sikhs worry about the future as row with Canada escalates

India’s Sikhs worry about the future as row with Canada escalates

“Obviously we’re concerned about making sure [the sales] get executed,” Price said, adding that he’s not aware of any cancellations. “Do they want to take on more now? No. They’re taking a wait-and-see” attitude.

Due to India’s poor crop, lentil prices are high, but since Trudeau’s comments Indian offers for Canadian supplies have dropped 6 per cent to around US$770 per tonne, Price said.

A second Canadian exporter said while Indian buyers have become hesitant, overall global demand for lentils remains strong.

Canada was the biggest supplier of lentils to India during India’s 2022/23 financial year ended on March 31 with shipments of 485,492 tonnes worth US$370 million, accounting for more than half of India’s total lentil imports, according to data from India’s trade ministry.

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The trend had been continuing, with India’s imports of Canadian lentils from April to July jumping 420 per cent from a year ago to 190,784 tonnes, the trade ministry data showed.

India consumes around 2.4 million tonnes of lentils annually, but local production falls short at 1.6 million tonnes, said Bimal Kothari, chairman of India Pulses and Grains Association.

Indian buyers are now seeking lentils from Australia and slowing purchases from Canada, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm, who was not authorised to speak publicly.

“Inflation within the pulses group is currently very high, making Canadian lentils a critical need for India. Any measures taken to restrict imports would likely contribute to inflation, and Delhi would likely avoid such actions,” the dealer said.

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