“We are using trade to bring India and the UK nearer still. We made some great progress over the past few months.
“Any greater access to what is projected to be the world’s third largest economy by 2050 could be a gamechanger of course for UK firms. If we can make it easier and more cost effective to do business, we’ll drive growth and support jobs in both our countries,” said Greg Hands, UK Minister for Trade Policy at the glittering India Global Forum (IGF) Diwali reception in London this week.
The minister at the Department for International Trade (DIT) was joined by several of his colleagues in government as he updated the gathering on where things stand with the much-anticipated UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) after it missed the Diwali deadline.
He said: “Talks are progressing well. We have completed five rounds of formal negotiations and we are seeing a way forward for a deal that works for both sides. As my boss, the Trade Secretary [Kemi Badenoch] likes to say, it’s the deal that’s more important than the date when it comes to delivering for businesses and consumers in both our countries.
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“Given the importance of the free trade agreement (FTA) to both our nations, our focus must be on quality, not speed. And by concentrating on the deal and not the date, we’ll build an agreement that truly serves all of our citizens.”
Foreign Office Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad noted: “We often talk about the strong links between our two countries, but it is up to us to make sure the diaspora living bridge delivers by investing in the bond of trust between India and the UK.”
Members of the Opposition Labour Party at the event included Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, Shadow Trade Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds and Shadow Foreign Minister Catherine West.
Lammy, who shared his own great grandmother’s roots in India, said: “We in the Labour Party long and hope we will get a trade deal with India, and we hope the visa obstacles will be overcome.”
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The Acting High Commissioner of India to the UK, Sujit Ghosh, reflected upon the International Monetary Fund (IMF) characterising India as a “bright spot” amid a series headwinds currently faced by the global economy.
Professor Manoj Ladwa, Founder of IGF and the host of the event, noted: “Diwali or Deepavali translates as a row of lights and here we have many leading lights that make the UK-India winning partnership truly shine.”
*Info: India Global Forum