More Canadians want stronger ties with India rather than China, says survey

More Canadians are bullish on their country’s relationship with India than with China, albeit by a slim margin, according to a new survey.

world Updated: Sep 08, 2017 21:24 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
India-Canada relations,Angus Reid Institute,China
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit at Hamburg, Germany.(PTI)

More Canadians prefer that their government direct its efforts towards strengthening economic ties with India than with China, albeit by a narrow margin, when asked to choose directly between the two Asian giants, according to a new survey released by a Canadian public interest research organisation.

The report by the , Angus Reid Institute pointed out: “Responses to this question have shifted in India’s favour since April 2015, a fact that may be attributable to media and government scrutiny of Chinese investment in Canadian real estate and business ventures in the intervening years.”

Two years ago, those numbers were tilted sharply in China’s favour at 58% against 42% for India. The latest survey indicates Canadian public opinion may have altered, with 51% opting for India and the remainder for China.

Asked which of Asia’s two largest countries Canada should build stronger ties with, 51% of Canadians opted for India. (Angus Reid Institute)

These findings were part of a larger poll that was conducted in the shadow of the Donald Trump administration undertaking a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and attempted to gauge which countries Canadians are looking at in terms of partnerships going ahead.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey during August 22 – 25 among a representative, randomised sample of 1,505 Canadian adults.

While the head-to-head numbers may be heartening for India boosters, overall when asked the nations Canada ought to develop closer trade ties with, China had 24% support, nearly double the number for India.

On the whole, Washington’s recent rhetoric may have pulled it down in Canadian public perception, as more citizens of the US’ northern neighbour prefer the European Union, at 44%, three per cent higher than America, when it comes to Ottawa pursuing closer trade ties.

Next on the list are the United Kingdom, followed by China, India, South and Central America, Southeast Asia and others.

US President Trump’s combative words over first renegotiating and then threatening to terminate NAFTA have had their impact on Canadians. As recently as February, 49% of Canadians still sought the main focus to be on the US, 16% higher than the European Union, but the new numbers show an increasing tilt towards the EU and away from the US.

These findings will still be welcome for those seeking a stronger bilateral framework between Canada and India, as it shows India is gaining traction among regular Canadians.

Kasi Rao, president and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council, said, “India is in the midst of an economic transformation. There is a window of opportunity that can position Canada more strategically both within the business community as well as the wider publics.”

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 16:39 IST