India makes ‘considerable progress’ in FTA talks with UK
New Delhi says the two sides focused on low-hanging fruits in their negotiations
India’s commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)
INDIA said it made “considerable” progress on “difficult issues” in its Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the UK this week.
An official statement issued in New Delhi on Wednesday (12) said commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal’s visit to London helped in moving forward the discussions during their critical stage.
As Goyal met UK trade secretary Kemi Badenoch, the two sides focused on low-hanging fruits, which included the closure of several chapters in the negotiations. “This pragmatic approach aimed at resolving issues where negotiators had encountered challenges,” the statement said.
Both Goyal and Badenoch acknowledged the potential of the Indian market for Britain, considering the south Asian nation’s population and its economic growth.
Launched on January 13, 2021, the FTA talks between the countries cover 26 policy areas with investment being negotiated as a separate agreement.
Both sides had last year missed the Diwali deadline due to economic and political crises in the UK.
India’s industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals in the UK market and the entry of Indian whiskey by removing conditions on the three-year minimum maturation period.
Britain is also seeking a significant cut in the import duties on Scotch whisky and more opportunities for UK services in the Indian markets.
The bilateral trade between the countries has increased to $20.36 billion (£15.54 bn) in 2022-23 from $17.5 bn (£13.35 bn) in 2021-22.
India’s main exports to the UK comprise ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment, spices, machinery and instruments, pharmaceuticals and marine products. The main imports include precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, professional instruments other than electronics, chemicals and machinery.
The UK is the largest market in Europe for Indian IT services. It is also one of the top investors in India.
In 2022-23, India received $1.74 bn (£1.33 bn) in foreign direct investment from Britain as against $1 bn (£760 million) in 2021-22.
Between April 2000 and March 2023, the investment stood at $33.9 bn (£25.87 bn).
Britain, which is a $3.1 trillion (£2.37 trillion) economy according to World Bank data, has long been a services sector powerhouse.
The City of London, which is one of the world’s biggest financial markets, has also long attracted Indian companies seeking to raise funds from the global market.
(With inputs from PTI)