• Friday, December 01, 2023


Britain and India want to strike a ‘truly ambitious’ trade deal: Rishi Sunak

The prime minister said the eyes of the world will be on India over the next few weeks and months

Rishi Sunak with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain (R) and musician Shankar Mahadevan (L) at the UK-India reception in the garden of 10 Downing Street. (Photo: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

By: Pramod Thomas

BRITAIN and India want to strike a truly “ambitious trade deal” that benefits both the nations, bringing “tremendous opportunities” for businesses and consumers, prime minister Rishi Sunak has said.

At a reception on Wednesday (28) to celebrate India Global Forum’s UK-India week 2023 in Downing Street, Sunak said the eyes of the world will be on India over the next few weeks and months.

“The UK-India week is genuinely a very big moment in the calendar. But this year, I think we’re actually going one better. It’s not just India week, but a whole India summer,” he told guests in the garden of his official home.

“There, is of course, the G20 in New Delhi. And I absolutely can’t wait to be there. In fact, it is only going to be the warm-up act to the biggest event of all, when India hosts the cricket World Cup.”

The prime minister added, “There is so much to celebrate. The links between our two countries are closer than ever. Just look at the coronation of the King. On that most historic day, people of Indian heritage were at the heart of proceedings, presenting the coronation regalia and as part of the delegation of faith leaders.

“It shows the depth of the bonds we share, the living bridge between our two nations, the thriving business links, and the flow of ideas and investments, all stronger than ever. But of course, we want to do more.”

Sunak speaks during the event (Photo: Simon Walker/No 10 Downing Street)

Sunak said he and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi want to strike a “truly ambitious” trade deal that will provide benefit opportunities for businesses and consumers, both in India and the UK.

“Prime minister Modi-ji and I agree there’s huge potential. We’re making great progress together on the 2030 roadmap and we want to strike a truly ambitious trade deal that benefits both our nations, bringing tremendous opportunities to businesses and consumers, both in India and here,” Sunak said.

Rishi Sunak speaks with Aditya Mittal (L) (Photo: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

India and the UK recently concluded the tenth round of FTA negotiations and an 11th round is set to begin in the next few weeks.

Rishi Sunak with actor Vivek Oberoi (R) (Photo: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Sunak was joined by his wife Akshata Murty and joked that the garden party was also in honour of his mother-in-law Sudha Murty, who is visiting from India.

“Here we are, in Downing Street, with a prime minister of Indian heritage, with all of you at the top of your game, leaders in your fields showing that anything is possible. So, let’s keep raising our sights and let’s keep scoring boundaries as we build this partnership,” the prime minister said.

Rishi Sunak with guests (Photo: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

In his remarks, India Global Forum founder, Manoj Ladwa, noted the “great winning partnership” between the UK and India.

Ladwa said, “We are all here from such diverse backgrounds, experiences and journeys. Yet what unites us is our passion and our contribution to enhance what I describe as the great winning partnership between the UK and India.

“There is no noble cause of greater national strategic importance, no bigger ambition that will unite our two great nations for eternity, if England thrashes Australia (in Ashes Test).”

Rishi Sunak interacts with guests. (Photo: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Sunak met business leaders and celebrities, including tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, musician Shankar Mahadevan (who were both in London for the 50th reunion of the band, Shakti), boxing champion Mary Kom, India’s high commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, deputy high commissioner, Sujit Ghosh, Chanel CEO Leena Nair, KPMG chair Bina Mehta, author and director of Nehru Centre Amish Tripathi, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta, Aditya Mittal of Arcelor Mittal, Shrai Madhvani, Bollywood actors Vivek Oberoi and Sonam Kapoor.

Guests included Lord Dolar Popat and Lord Jitesh Gadhia.

The Forum’s fifth annual UK-India week runs until Friday (30).

Eastern Eye

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