In a surprising turn of events, BLS International, an India-based firm, instantly retracted its announcement regarding the suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens. The company briefly published the announcement on its website but took it down shortly after.
What Happened: According to a Tuesday Reuters report, BLS International initially attributed the suspension to “operational reasons” upon instructions from the Indian mission in Canada. However, the firm later expunged the notice without offering further clarification.
The abrupt announcement and subsequent retraction took place against a backdrop of growing tensions between India and Canada. Recently, the Canadian government has commenced an investigation into allegations that agents of the Indian government participated in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June.
These allegations have been categorically denied by the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The recent events have intensified diplomatic strains between the two nations, culminating in the expulsion of diplomats. Canada ranks as the 17th largest foreign investor in India, having invested over $3.6 billion since 2000. Moreover, Indian students form the largest chunk of the international student population in Canada, with their numbers surging by 47% in 2022 to nearly 320,000.
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Analysts predict that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two nations could potentially augment two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion. This could result in a GDP gain of between $3.8 billion and $5.9 billion for Canada by 2035.
Why It Matters: While BLS International’s sudden decision to suspend and then resume visa services remains unexplained, it is clear that the ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and Canada could have significant economic repercussions. The ongoing geopolitical strain could impact the relations between the two countries, which are marked by substantial trade and investment, as well as strong educational ties. These developments might also jeopardize the potential benefits of the CEPA.
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