New industry taskforce to get UK-India free trade deal over the line

New industry taskforce to get UK-India free trade deal over the line
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A new UK India Industry Taskforce has been launched as an industry-led joint commission to increase cross-industry collaboration and push the UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) over the line.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said this week that they have created the new taskforce as part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide a “critical forum” for discussion to ensure an FTA works to the benefit of businesses in both countries. The joint commission is designed to provide oversight and meet ahead of key milestones to reflect views on trade-offs, breakdown barriers to market access and help feed in on-the-ground business intelligence at a ministerial level in India and the UK.

CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said: “I look forward to working with CII on this new commission to strengthen our ties across trade, investment, climate and health as our countries recover from the twin shock of Covid and the Ukraine crisis.

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“A free trade agreement with the world’s fastest growing economy is now within touching distance, and to clinch that deal a focus on lowering barriers to trade is now essential. For example, on renewables, we have an opportunity to export UK’s expertise in clean tech. A deal has the potential to drastically lower tariffs on wind turbines parts that are currently as high as 15 per cent.

“More broadly, a deal anchored in slashing tariffs, improving the ability to move talent across borders as well as data, will unlock plenty of prizes across a host of sectors from services and life sciences to tech and innovation.”

During a visit to India last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that the negotiators have been set a timeline of Diwali in October to complete a draft FTA. The negotiating teams have since completed the third round of talks in New Delhi, with a focus on reducing the barriers to trade, cutting tariffs, and supporting firms to export.

According to CBI, reducing tariffs on green exports such as solar, onshore, and offshore wind, could open up new opportunities for companies in India, with an FTA with India expected to nearly double UK exports to India. A trade deal is also expected to boost Britain’s total trade by as much as £28 billion a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK regions by £3 billion, according to industry estimates.

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CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “This partnership is an opportunity to address shared concerns, identify common interests and foster greater understanding and to develop capacity to address the issues of economic and global concerns.

“The collaboration between CII and CBI will cover joint efforts in specific areas such as advancing technology and digitalisation, climate change and sustainability, multilateral collaboration, alignment on FTA and education. As we build upon this renewed partnership today, we are eager and excited to be working together with a focused approach.”

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