India’s lentil imports from its major supplier Canada are steady, according to a top government official, allaying concerns that a diplomatic row between the two nations is hurting trade.
The administration hasn’t asked traders to refrain from purchasing the commodity from Canada, as speculated by some traders, Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said.
“The flows from both Canada and Australia are seamless. We don’t distinguish between the country of origin, but of course we will go by the quality that we receive at ports,” he told reporters on Thursday.
The clarification follows a deterioration in ties between the trading partners after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India’s government of helping orchestrate the killing of a Sikh separatist activist on Canadian soil. New Delhi has called the allegation “absurd” and retaliated with several measures, including a suspension of visas for Canadians. However, the country said Wednesday it will begin issuing certain categories of visas.
The Economic Times newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing industry sources it didn’t identify, that no new contracts were being signed for imports of lentils from Canada as traders were worried that retaliatory tariffs could be imposed.
Lentil imports by India more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.09 million tons between Jan. 1 and Oct. 17, Singh said. Inbound shipments included 601,000 tons from Australia, 463,000 tons from Canada and 18,000 tons from Russia, he said.
India has been trying to keep domestic food prices under control ahead of polls in five key states next month and the national election in early 2024, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a third term in the office. It has restricted exports of wheat, rice and sugar, besides cracking down on hoarding and selling farm commodities from state reserves.
The government expects domestic prices of pulses to stay stable in the next six months on hopes of good pigeon pea crops, Singh said. It may also sell the commodity from state reserves, if needed, to improve supplies in the local market, he said.