“That deal’s not done yet, but it’s back on track,” said UK Secretary of State for Trade Kemi Badenoch, with reference to the free trade agreement (FTA) talks with India.
Addressing an audience of business leaders at Lancaster House in London this week to lay out her trade priorities for the year, the minister sought to move forward from the missed Diwali deadline for the negotiations last year.
She said: “Some of you will know I was a software engineer and a systems analyst before I became a politician. That means I’m a problem solver at heart.
“So when our Indian trade talks hit a bit of an impasse, I didn’t pick up the phone, I got on a plane.”
Badenoch was in New Delhi in December to hold talks with her counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal (pictured), and kick off the sixth round of FTA talks. The seventh round is now due to take place in the UK.
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“But I want to be clear that just signing on the dotted line is not the objective. These deals will only be agreed if they are the right deals for the people of this country. Bringing in jobs and investment to left-behind communities and capitalising on those areas in which we specialise,” said Badenoch.
She also revealed how the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) was opening up the Indian market for UK businesses, with a Lancashire firm called VetPlus approaching the DIT recently over a “paperwork problem” in selling their pet food products into India.
“We fixed it. And the company now expects to do £1.5 million of additional business over the next five years. This is where my team comes in,” she shared.
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The trade minister vowed to remove trade barriers, knocking down "100 unnecessary blockers" standing in the way of helping UK businesses sell more and grow more, creating new jobs and paying higher wages.
“The UK is a leading destination for foreign investment. However, this position is not a given. There is fierce global competition for every pound of finance. I want to make the UK the most attractive place to invest in Europe, enticing companies from across the world to put their money into communities across the country,” she said.