I am writing to provide an update on the status of Canada’s pulse industry’s relationship with India.
As you know, our industry has invested three decades in nurturing our relationship with India and has worked diligently and constructively for the past 13 years with successive governments toward a free trade agreement. The Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) held much promise, providing a framework for the next 30 years of pulse trade between our nations.
In September, it became clear that any progress made toward an EPTA was effectively halted. With diplomatic tensions between the governments of Canada and India high – there was no longer appetite on either side to work toward closer trading ties. This news was incredibly disappointing to our industry. There is no doubt that this recent strain along with some aggressive pricing out of Australia has put downward pressure on red lentil prices for Canadian growers over the last month. While it is true that lentil shipments to India in September were not disrupted, grower prices have dropped since mid September. Bottom line – this kind of uncertainty is not good for Canadian pulse growers and our overall ag economy.
India is Canada’s largest market for lentils so Pulse Canada has taken several steps to ensure trade was impacted as little as possible. We have maintained close contact with the federal government, including the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of International Trade, advising on how to keep pulses out of the retaliatory crosshairs. We believe diplomatic disputes should be resolved by diplomats, and should not impede the ability for countries to trade. Pulse Canada has been actively engaging to make it crystal clear that the federal government understands the value to Canada’s pulse industry of repairing relations with India as soon as possible.
We also continue to send strong signals through our business-to-business relationships with organizations, companies and customers in India to assure them that the Canadian pulse industry is 100% committed to its pulse partnership with India. Thanks to the work of growers and the trade, for over 20 years Canada has been the largest supplier of pulses to India and we know everyone is prepared to do the work that’ll ensure that’s true for the next 20 years as well. We are communicating regularly to manage any issues that could arise from this unexpected diplomatic tension. We do this with the aim of keeping shipments moving, and encouraging new business as the season progresses.
Our efforts to rebuild and strengthen this crucial trade partnership are a top priority. We are working diligently to resolve trade issues, improve market access, and demonstrate our commitment to the Indian market. Furthermore, we continue to work to diversify the market for Canadian lentils, taking steps to enhance the reputation of Canadian pulses, reinforcing our commitment to quality and sustainability in new high-value markets around the world.
Pulse Canada is here to support you, and we will continue to keep you updated on the progress we make in strengthening our relationship with India. We value your trust, cooperation and feedback as we navigate this complex situation.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to the Canadian pulse industry. Together, we will emerge from this period of uncertainty with stronger partnerships and brighter prospects.
President, Pulse Canada