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India, UK launch FTA negotiations

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and UK’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan led their respective delegations at the talks with both expressing confidence that the negotiations would be fruitful.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

India and the United Kingdom today launched negotiations on an ambitious Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that could create huge benefits for both countries.

Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and UK’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan led their respective delegations at the talks with both expressing confidence that the negotiations would be fruitful.

”We are committed to concluding the FTA negotiations in about a year’s time,” Goyal said. According to him, both sides have agreed that sensitive issues were not their priority. ”From both sides, there is no demand that is absolutely a deal-breaker,” he said when asked if India has demanded relaxation in UK visa restrictions for FTA.

“We aim for this to be a future-facing deal, accelerating the business that we do together in cutting-edge sectors that’re reshaping the global economy,” says the UK minister.

According to a note issued by the British High Commission, India is one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies and a bold new deal would put UK businesses at the front of the queue to supply India’s growing middle class, forecast to increase to a quarter of a billion consumers by 2050. India is set to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2050, with a bigger population than the US and EU combined.

A deal has the potential to almost double UK exports to India, boost its total trade by as much as £28 billion a year by 2035, and increase wages across the UK by up to £3 billion. Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK.

The UK wants an agreement that slashes barriers to doing business and trading with India’s £2 trillion economy and market of 1.4 billion consumers, including cutting tariffs on exports of British-made cars and Scotch whisky, the note said.

A deal with India would be a big step forward in the UK’s strategy to refocus trade on the Indo-Pacific, home to half of the world’s population and 50 per cent of global economic growth. A new economic partnership with India, alongside UK membership of the massive Asia-Pacific trading bloc, CPTPP, will create a pillar in the region supporting free and fair trade.

According to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a trade deal with India’s booming economy offers huge benefits for British businesses, workers and consumers. ”As we take our historic partnership with India to the next level, the UK’s independent trade policy is creating jobs, increasing wages and driving innovation across the country,” he said.