UK International Trade Minister Nigel Huddleston is in India this week for discussions on bolstering green partnerships between the two countries against the backdrop of the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
Huddleston arrived in Kolkata to unveil a package of partnerships on electric mobility and green construction at a joint session with the government of West Bengal. The UK government’s Department for Business and Trade (DBT) said Huddleston’s visit will focus on unlocking more opportunities for British companies to grow trade and two-way business flows.
The minister said: “Our trading relationship with India already stands strong at £36 billion and fuels over half a million jobs in both nations – but we want to do even more. That's why I've been meeting with industry leaders in Kolkata to identify opportunities and boost our trade partnership.”
While in Kolkata, the minister will announce a new project that will see the UK and West Bengal join forces on a pilot to develop electric two-wheelers, such as motorcycles or scooters. West Bengal, the sixth largest state by economic value in India with a GDP expected to reach £117 million this year, has set a target of developing 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) in the next five years.
Transport is the third biggest source of emissions in India, with road transport accounting for 90 per cent of transport emissions. India has set strong targets to boost EVs and the UK is well-placed to support this ambition by providing knowledge exchange, access to finance and technology, DBT said.
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Huddleston will also launch a centre to enhance opportunities in the EV sector by partnering Indian businesses with elite academic and industrial institutions in the UK. He will also facilitate the signing of memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the UK's Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and government of West Bengal on skill development in sustainable and modern methods of construction. Through these initiatives, UK businesses will be well-placed to customise and market EV technology and sustainable construction for this burgeoning market in India, DBT added.
Huddleston will also visit a waste processing company in Kolkata using cutting-edge green technologies supplied by UK business CDE Ireland to recycle construction waste into high quality, reusable sand.
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At a business roundtable, the minister will speak to industry leaders on the deepening of UK and India’s economic ties, emphasising the opportunities that have already been unlocked from the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership. With 10 rounds of negotiations now complete, the minister will also discuss the economic benefits of a proposed UK-India FTA that could cut red tape, reduce tariffs, and help UK and Indian companies do more business.
The minister’s South Asian visit will also cover the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka.