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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

UK and India launch trade talks ‘worth billions’


Britain and India have concluded their first day of talks about a potential free trade deal in New Delhi.

The goal is to sign an agreement by the end of the year that could increase trade by billions of pounds.

Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal and his UK counterpart Anne-Marie Trevelyan both stated that a limited agreement could be reached in the coming months.

As it seeks to tap into fast-growing economies, the UK has made a post-Brexit deal with India one of its top priorities.

“This is an opportunity that we must seize in order to steer our partnership down a path of mutual prosperity for decades to come,” Ms Trevelyan said.

Britain stated that the agreement could nearly double British exports to India and increase total trade between the two countries by £28 billion per year by 2035. In 2019, total trade was worth £23 billion.

Trade talks with India are not for the faint of heart.

However, with no progress on a free trade agreement with the United States and none expected in the near future, the formal start of talks with India, announced in New Delhi on Thursday, is the largest negotiation the UK government will undertake this year.

India is on track to become the world’s third largest economy by 2050, and the government expects UK-India trade to more than double over the next decade.

Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan describes the prospect of a free trade agreement with India as a “golden opportunity,” and there are certainly large commercial stakes at stake.

But, with so many vested and vulnerable interests to safeguard, India has always been hesitant to liberalise.

The EU has been attempting to reach a meaningful agreement with India for years, with little success. Australia, too, has been negotiating a deal for over a decade.

Particularly difficult areas include government procurement policy and trade in services.

Read more here.

India wants more opportunities for Indians to live and work in the United Kingdom, and any trade agreement could include discussions about relaxing rules and lowering fees for Indian students and professionals visiting the United Kingdom.

Mr Goyal, on the other hand, stated that neither country will make such issues a requirement for a trade agreement.

“Nothing in this agreement is necessarily a deal-breaker,” Mr Goyal said. “And I don’t think there’s any reason for anyone to be concerned about issues that are sensitive to any country,” he added, “because both sides have agreed that sensitive issues are not our priority.”

Ministers in the United Kingdom want British companies to be able to sell more products to India, such as whisky.

They also want India to become a bigger buyer of British green technology and services.


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