• Sunday, April 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Trade talks on hold as India goes to polls

The two countries have held stop-start talks over a Free Trade Agreement for two years and both are set to hold national elections in 2024

India’s Narendra Modi and UK’s Rishi Sunak hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. (ANI Photo)

By: Shajil Kumar

THE fourteenth round of trade talks between Britain and India concluded on Friday (15) without a deal, while India heads to a general election.

The Election Commission of India is expected to announce the general election schedule on Saturday. Formal talks will not take place during India’s pre-election period.

The two countries have held stop-start talks over a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for two years and both are set to hold national elections in 2024.

According to UK officials, the next round of trade talks can commence only after India elects its new government.

“Neither side is walking away from talks,” said one British official. “We simply do not yet have what we need to finalise a deal that meets our joint ambitions.”

Earlier this week Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak reaffirmed their commitment to securing a new trade deal, which British ministers have said will take time to get right.

“The UK has been crystal clear that we won’t agree a deal until we reach ambitious outcomes on goods, services, and investment,” the British official said on Friday.

Last week, India’s commerce minister Piyush Goyal said that India was seeking a “balanced, fair and equitable” deal.

UK’s business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch recently said that while a trade deal with India is “possible” before general elections in the country, Britain does not want to use that as a deadline.

Earlier this week India signed a free trade pact with a group of European nations – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – committing to reduce tariffs, while New Delhi receives $100 billion in investments over the next 15 years. (Agencies)

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