UK free trade talks to resume with India
The sixth round of free trade talks between India and the UK will resume with UK trade minister Kemi Badenoch meeting her Indian counterpart, commerce minister Piyush Goyal, here.
The trip marks the first formal round of negotiations since July.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April set an ambitious target to agree on an FTA with India by Diwali in October. But Johnson was forced to announce his resignation in July, and the deadline was missed.
New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is committed to getting a deal with India but won’t sacrifice quality for speed, in a change of tone compared to Johnson.
An Indian government source told Reuters the intention was to close a deal by March. The source and another official, both of whom did not want to be named as the talks are private, said drug patents could be also be discussed, but declined to provide details.
“Both nations have come to the table with the very highest of ambitions and a willingness to work together towards a mutually beneficial deal. I’m excited about the opportunities we can create for British business,” Badernoch said.
India and the UK launched the FTA negotiations in January 2022 and set a target to double bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030. Although about 19 of the 26 chapters to be covered in the India-UK FTA have been settled, major areas that still need to be sorted out include market access for automobiles, whisky and processed food, visa rules for workers and students, IPRs, government procurement and financial and legal services.
“India and the UK are the 5th and 6th biggest economies in the world. We have a long shared history, and are in pole position to do a deal that will create jobs, encourage growth and boost our 29 billion pounds trading relationship,” she added.
The UK said the target for the FTA is to achieve a deal to cut tariffs and open opportunities for UK services, making it easier for British businesses to sell to the Indian economy, which is set to be the world’s third largest with a middle class of 250 million people by 2050.