India-UK aim at closing free trade agreement by October
India and the UK on Friday expressed optimism about wrapping up their free trade agreement (FTA) by October.
“Today Prime Minister Modi and I told our negotiators to get it done by Diwali in October,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “This could double our trade and investment by the end of the decade, driving down prices for consumers, and increasing wages across the UK by as much as £3 billion,” he said.
The bilateral trade in goods stood at $16 billion in 2021-22 compared with $13.11 billion in 2020-21. India and the UK in March concluded the second round of talks for the trade pact. The negotiating teams will hold the third round here next week.
Officials said four out of 26 chapters within FTA have been finalised during the first two rounds since the negotiations began in January and “significant progress” has been made in the remaining 22 chapters.
Pradeep Multani, president, PHDCCI, said, “Indian businesses would benefit significantly by greater access to the UK market in ICT, financial services, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals.”
“This FTA would be vital for India as it would enhance exports of large sectors such as textiles, leather goods, and footwear, which would increase employment opportunities in India with increased factory production and enhanced volume of goods and services,” he said.
India wants movement of skilled workers and data adequacy status, while the UK has asked for duty concessions to whiskey and scotch, imported automobiles, apples, pears, quinces, and lamb meat.
India also wants the resolution of regulatory issues in the pharmaceutical sector and concessions for textiles, footwear, leather products, basmati rice. The UK wants greater access to medical devices and legal, accounting and financial services.
“They (Johnson and Modi) also discussed the ways in which the UK and India are working together to bring down the cost of clean energy and hugely increase our renewable capacity, particularly in green hydrogen and offshore wind,” a UK government spokesperson said.
Johnson said the talks were aimed at supporting India's energy transition from imported oil.
The two sides launched a virtual hydrogen science and innovation hub to accelerate the availability of affordable green hydrogen and unveiled plans in sync with the Green Grids Initiative announced at COP26.
In his comments, Modi said, “good progress” is being made in the negotiations for the FTA ”In the last few months, India has concluded Free Trade Agreements with UAE and Australia. At the same pace, with the same commitment, we would like to move forward on the FTA with the UK as well,” Modi said.