Boris Johnson to be first UK PM to visit Gujarat in diaspora effect

Boris Johnson to be first UK PM to visit Gujarat in diaspora effect
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Boris Johnson will become the first British Prime Minister to visit the state of Gujarat when he lands in the state capital of Ahmedabad this week. The visit, Johnson’s first as UK Prime Minister, will begin in Ahmedabad on April 21 with investment announcements in key industries in both the UK and India.

While in Ahmedabad, Johnson is scheduled to meet with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India’s “thriving” commercial, trade and people links. The choice of Gujarat, India’s fifth largest state, has been linked with it being the ancestral home of around half of the British Indian diaspora population in the UK.

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“In Gujarat, the Prime Minister is expected to announce major investment in key industries in both the UK and India, boosting jobs and growth at home, as well as new collaboration on cutting-edge science, health and technology,” a Downing Street statement said over the weekend.

Johnson will then proceed to New Delhi to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 22, when the focus will be on India-UK strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership.

“My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations – from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence,” said Johnson, ahead of the visit next week.

“As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times,” he said.

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Johnson and Modi are scheduled to hold in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering the close partnership and stepping up security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

According to officials on both sides, Boris Johnson will also use his India visit to drive progress in the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations launched earlier this year. The FTA talks, which will move into their third round later this month, are expected to result in a deal predicted to boost the UK’s total trade by up to £28 billion annually by 2035 and increase incomes across the UK by up to £3 billion.

Last year, the two Prime Ministers had agreed a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than £530 million in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security, and connecting people.

Modi and Johnson last met in person on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November last year. Johnson’s visit next week is seen as long overdue on both sides, having been cancelled twice before due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

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