UK-India free trade negotiations to begin in New Year

UK-India free trade negotiations to begin in New Year
Courtesy: Pool / Pool | Getty Images News via Getty Images

Formal negotiations for an India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) are set to begin early next year as officials on both sides continue their engagement following the conclusion of working groups in October, the UK government confirmed this week.

“We look forward to launching negotiations early next year,” a UK government spokesperson said.

“India is projected to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050, and a trade deal will open huge opportunities for UK businesses to trade with India’s £2 trillion economy,” the spokesperson said.

The British government insisted that all departments were in “lockstep” with each other over clinching this important agreement with India.

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UK-India free trade negotiations to begin in New Year
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According to the UK Department for International Trade (DIT), preparations for the launch of negotiations for the UK-India FTA "remain underway" since the conclusion of bilateral working groups. UK International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and her counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, had also held talks during the G20 trade ministers meeting in Sorrento, Italy, in October to discuss “final preparations” for the launch of UK-India FTA negotiations.

The UK has said it wants a deal that slashes barriers to doing business and trading with India. Recently, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president Lord Karan Bilimoria had indicated that talks were set to begin imminently.

Back in May, India and the UK clinched an Enhanced Trade Partnership during a virtual summit between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, with the goal to double bilateral trade to £50 billion by 2030.

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The FTA is seen as the next step in the bilateral engagement, with some discussion around an interim agreement ahead of a full-fledged deal.

The UK has said it wants a deal that slashes barriers to doing business and trading with India. There had been talk of a so-called early harvest or interim trade deal as early as next year, ahead of a full-fledged FTA.

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