INDIA and the UK launched three new bilateral working groups on Monday (15) to tackle remaining barriers to trade in food and drink, life sciences and healthcare, digital and data services.
These working groups will be run by the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) alongside the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
The three groups will identify solutions to the key issues in each sector, making recommendations directly to the UK and Indian ministers.
The three new bilateral working groups were launched as part of the 13th Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting in London.
The UK secretary of state for international trade, Liam Fox, and his counterpart, India’s minister of commerce, Piyush Goyal, met with businesses at JETCO meeting as part of the bilateral talks.
Goyal, also met a diverse group of UK businesses including SMEs and MNC investors to discuss market access barriers and delivering ease of doing business reform in a meeting that included secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, James Brokenshire, and others.
Across all sectors, it became clear throughout the day that taking Ease of Doing Business reforms down to the state and district levels will be a major part of transforming the day-to-day operating environment, especially for SMEs.
Chairing the Ease of Doing Business session between businesses and Goyal, UKIBC CEO, Richard Heald, OBE, said: “The early signs from the newly re-elected Government in India suggest serious commitment towards stepping up the ease of doing business reform.
“Based on today’s JETCO discussions between Ministers and businesses on both sides, there is real optimism that India will break into the top-50 for ease of doing business globally, and should set its sights yet further still as the UK seeks to forge an ever closer and strategic post-BREXIT relationship with India.”
In a meeting for Indian businesses, the UKIBC and CII hosted leading Indian investors in the UK for direct talks with senior Home Office officials as part of consultations on the UK government’s new skills-based immigration White Paper.
It is often said that India will require more access to UK work visas as part of any future trade deal.
Engagement with India and Indian businesses has been the top priority for the UK government since the White Paper was released in December 2018, with the first overseas consultation visit being to India in January this year, UKIBC said in a release.
Although India already receives 60 per cent of all work visas the UK issues – more than the rest of the world combined.
UK-India trade relations are reviewed annually at the JETCO between the UK’s secretary of state for international trade and India’s minister of commerce every year since 2005.