India, UK aim to kick-start new trade agreement talks this year

The United Kingdom has said it aims to start negotiations for a new trade agreement with India by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Britain's Department for International Trade (DIT) said: "We are currently in the pre-negotiation scoping phase of an FTA (free trade agreement), with the aim of starting negotiations by the end of this year.

"With bilateral trade valued at 23 billion pounds in 2019, a trade deal with India will help boost British exports through lower tariffs and increased investment opportunities."

A trade accord with India is seen as a crucial target for post-Brexit Britain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson reluctantly called off a trip to Delhi in April after Covid-19 cases spiralled across India but in a virtual meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leaders had agreed a Roadmap 2030 for moving towards a free trade agreement (FTA).

Since completing its exit from the European Union at the end of last year, Britain has been keen to secure trade deals. It is particularly pursuing ties with nations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Britain said late in May it was launching a 14-week consultation on a future trade deal with India, seeking the views of the public and businesses. That consultation process is set to close towards the end of this month.

(Reuters)

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