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UK Corona Update 
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India corona update 
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Total Cases 33,347,325
Today's Fatalities 431
Today's Cases 30,570

Business

India, UK moving towards ‘early harvest trade’ agreement: New Delhi

The UK’s international trade secretary Liz Truss (Photo: gov.uk)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

INDIA’S commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal has confirmed that New Delhi and the UK are moving towards an “early harvest trade” agreement, with a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) as the next step.

Goyal held a virtual meeting with the UK’s international trade secretary Liz Truss, on Monday (13) and described his discussions as “productive”.

“Held a productive discussion with Secretary of State for International Trade, UK Right Honourable Liz Truss, on enhancing the India-UK trade partnership,” Goyal said on Twitter.

“India and UK are strengthening trade ties by moving towards an early harvest deal, followed by a comprehensive FTA,” he added.

Truss, in her Twitter statement, announced the launch of trade working groups to lay the groundwork for a forthcoming UK-India trade agreement.

“Today Piyush Goyal and I launched trade working groups to lay the groundwork for our forthcoming UK-India trade deal, which will: boost access to more than a billion consumers; bolster our science & tech industries; and support jobs in both countries,” she said.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said talks between the two ministers focused on the “scope and ambition” for a UK-India free trade agreement (FTA), following the close of the UK’s formal consultation process.

“They discussed the findings from the consultation and agreed the steps to get ready to launch negotiations later this year – including the start of a series of trade working groups from September,” according to a DIT readout of Monday’s meeting.

“They also discussed the newly established Enhanced Trade Partnership and confirmed their commitment to timely implementation of the market access package,” the DIT said.

The UK government said these regular ministerial dialogues help both sides better understand each other’s position on potential “chapter areas” in any trade deal, including tariffs, standards, IP and data regulation.

“The International Trade Secretary reaffirmed her ambition to negotiate a trade agreement that delivers results for the British people and businesses including those in digital and data, tech and food and drink. Both ministers agreed that continuing to engage with the business community was vital throughout the forthcoming negotiations,” DIT said.

According to officials, findings from the DIT’s public consultation will be published before the start of formal trade negotiations.

A free trade deal will help provide a boost for UK exporters, by lowering tariffs, easing regulation, and driving up bilateral trade which totalled £23 billion in 2019, according to the UK trade ministry.

Increasing UK-India trade has been dubbed a “huge opportunity” by the UK, given India’s position as one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies and home to more than a billion consumers.

“I see the UK and India in a sweet spot of the trade dynamics that are building up,” Truss said at a City of London Corporation event celebrating the UK-India economic partnership last week.

“We are looking at a comprehensive trade agreement that covers everything, from financial services to legal services to digital and data, as well as goods and agriculture. We think there is a strong possibility for us to get an early agreement, where we lower tariffs on both sides and start to see more goods flowing between our two countries,” she said.

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