A senior Indian government official said discussions for the proposed free trade agreement between India and the UK are scheduled for June in New Delhi. The objective of both parties is to finalise the negotiations as soon as possible.
Santosh Kumar Saranagi, the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), emphasised that trade negotiations involve a process of compromise and are unrelated to elections taking place in specific countries. General elections are scheduled to occur in India next year.
“The effort is to expedite the negotiations. There was a Diwali deadline to conclude the talks was given, but for variety of reasons, it was extended. But the effort on both sides is to conclude it at the earliest,” he said.
The tenth round of negotiation is from June 5-9. “Hopefully we will make some substantial progress during that time,” he added.
The negotiations commenced on January 13, 2021, encompassing 26 policy areas/chapters.
Notably, investment is being discussed as a distinct agreement known as the Bilateral Investment Treaty, which is expected to be finalised concurrently with the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA).
So far 13 chapters have been substantially closed for negotiations and regular meetings held at higher levels to review the progress of talks and to resolve the outstanding issues.
Sarangi also informed that the fifth round of talks for a trade pact between India and the European Union (EU) is scheduled from June 19-23 in India and that four rounds of negotiations have been completed till March.
On the G20 talks, he said the second Trade and Investment Working Group (TIWG) meeting is now scheduled to be held on May 23-25 in Bengaluru.
In dedicated technical sessions, G20 delegates will deliberate on priority on WTO (World Trade Organisation) reform along with key deliverables on identified priority issues on trade for growth and prosperity, resilient global value chains, integrating MSMEs in global trade, and efficient logistics for trade.