India and Britain commence crucial free trade negotiations

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Piyush Goyal and Anne-Marie Trevelyan pose for a picture during the launch of FTA negotiations at a hotel in New Delhi on Thursday. Reuters

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, on Thursday launched the negotiations between India and the UK for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries in the presence of British International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

The FTA negotiations in New Delhi are expected to facilitate the target of doubling bilateral trade between India and the UK by 2030, set by the Prime Ministers of both the nations, Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson, in May 2021.

Speaking on the occasion, Goyal said that both India and the UK are vibrant democracies, with a partnership build on the shared history and rich culture of the two nations.

The diverse Indian diaspora in the UK, who act as a ‘Living Bridge’, adds further dynamism to the relations between the two countries, he said.

The FTA with the UK is expected to provide certainty, predictability and transparency and will create a more liberal, facilitative and competitive services regime, the minister noted.

“The FTA negotiations with the UK are expected to increase our exports in leather, textile, jewellery and processed agri products. India is also expected to register a quantum jump in the export of marine products through the recognition of 56 marine units in India.

“The mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) on pharma could provide additional market access. There is also great potential for increasing exports in service sectors like IT/ITES, nursing, education and healthcare, including AYUSH and audio-visual services. India would also be seeking special arrangements for movement of its people,” Goyal said.

The minister assured that subsequent to the unveiling of the FTA, the two nations would proactively and regularly engage with each other, for deliberating on the scope and coverage of the trade deal.

Observing that the UK is a major trade partner of India with substantial bilateral volume of trade in goods and services, Goyal said that with the cooperation extended across areas like tourism, technology, startups, education, climate change etc,. the two nations are looking forward to a mutually beneficial trade deal with balanced concessions and market access package in a wide range of sectors.

Calling for the enhancement of sectoral cooperation by addressing market access issues and removing trade restrictions, Goyal said that it would help generate direct and indirect employment in both the nations.

Earlier, Trevelyan had stated before leaving London: “We want to unlock this huge new market (offered by India) for our great British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries from food and drink to services and automotive.

“India marks the start of our ambitious 5-star year of UK trade and will show how the deals we negotiate will boost the economies across all nations.”

After the formal launch of the negotiations between India and the UK for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said that the UK is broadening its economic horizons and forging stronger partnerships with the fastest-growing economies of the world.

“As an independent, deal-making nation, the UK is broadening its economic horizons and forging stronger partnerships with the fastest-growing economies of the world. India marks the start of our ambitious 5-star year for UK trade and will show how the deals we negotiate boost the economies across all nations and help level up all regions of the UK,” Trevelyan said.

Trevelyan is on a two-day visit to India to officially launch negotiations on a new, ambitious FTA, which is supposed to create huge benefits for both the countries and could boost India-UK bilateral trade by up to 28 billion pounds a year by 2035.

The first round of negotiations is expected to start next week — making it the UK’s quickest start of formal talks between negotiating teams following a launch, a demonstration of the strength of the UK-India relationship.

The UK-India economic relationship is already strong and bilateral trade totalled over £23 billion in 2019, supporting nearly half-a-million jobs in each other’s economies.

In May 2021, the Prime Ministers of the two nations had set the ambition to double the value of UK-India trade over the next decade through the ‘2030 Roadmap’ plan, Trevelyan said.

“A deal with India is a golden opportunity to put UK businesses at the front of the queue, as the Indian economy continues to grow rapidly. By 2050, India will be the world’s third largest economy with a middle class of almost 250 million shoppers. We want to unlock this huge new market for our great British producers and manufacturers across numerous industries, from food and beverages to services and automotive,” Trevelyan added.

Indo-Asian News Service

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