India is big, major opportunity ahead: UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss

India is big, major opportunity ahead: UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss
UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss with Lord Mayor of London William Russell

India is the “big, major opportunity” ahead after the UK’s 68 trade deals clinched since its exit from the European Union (EU), according to the minister in charge of clinching that much-anticipated UK-India post-Brexit trade agreement next.

Liz Truss, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, has said that she is set to hammer out the details to begin free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with her Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, during the Indian Commerce and Industry minister’s planned visit to the UK next week.

Truss said: “We just completed our consultation on an Indian trade deal, which saw huge interest from businesses across the country. We are now going to begin negotiating a free trade agreement.

“Our two Prime Ministers [Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi] have already agreed that trade can be doubled by 2030, but will probably be much bigger than that.”

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At a special event at Mansion House in the City of London hosted by the Lord Mayor of London, William Russell, to celebrate the UK-India Economic Partnership this week, the minister said both sides are looking for “comprehensive trade agreement” that covers everything from financial services to legal services to digital and data, as well as goods and agriculture.

“We think there is strong possibility for us to get an early agreement, where we lower tariffs on both sides and start to see more goods flowing between our two countries,” she said.

Referring to the India versus England Test cricket series, which India is currently leading 2-1, as the perfect backdrop to the wider UK-India partnership, Truss highlighted that things were moving in the right direction.

She added: “By 2050, we are expecting 50 per cent of global trade to be digital and the UK is the second-largest exporter of services in the world; 66 per cent of the services are delivered remotely.

“The other big trend we are seeing is the growth in the Indo-Pacific region, where a lot of our trade negotiations are oriented towards. India is expected to have more middle-class consumers than the United States by 2030, and they would want to buy the finer things that Britain supplies – whether that’s financial services, insurance, computer technology, high-value food and drink or indeed our advanced manufacturing products.

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“I see the UK and India in a sweet spot of these trade dynamics that are building up.”

Her views were echoed by the Lord Mayor – the leader of the financial hub of London – who focused on the strength of the financial services partnership.

“In the last 20 years, the UK has invested over £20 billion in India. Our reciprocal investment supports over half a million jobs in both countries, which has led to Indian companies’ revenues growing by nearly 90 per cent in the last five years. This relationship is only getting stronger,” he said.

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