• Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Seventh round of India-UK FTA talks underway in London

Negotiations with the UK started on January 13 last year with an aim to boost bilateral trade and investments. The bilateral trade between the two countries increased to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to $13.2 billion in 2020-21.

British business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

The seventh round of India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations is edging towards its final stages here and is expected to conclude on a positive note, according to officials close to the discussions on Thursday (9).

The information emerged during an India investors Showcase organised by the Indian High Commission in London to highlight the investment opportunities available to investors from the UK, especially in the infrastructure and green mobility sectors.

Officials on both sides began the seventh round of FTA talks earlier this week, picking up from the sixth round of negotiations conducted in New Delhi in December 2022 with the visit of UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.

Negotiations with the UK started on January 13 last year with an aim to boost bilateral trade and investments. The bilateral trade between the two countries increased to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to $13.2 billion in 2020-21.

India’s exports stood at $10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were $7 billion.

Themed around India as a “strengthened partner” for post-Brexit Britain, the investor showcase was led by Suman Bery, vice chairman of NITI Aayog, who began with a keynote address on the country’s attractiveness as a talent pool and highlighted that the focus of an India-UK FTA should be on two-way exchanges.

“India is a bright spot… a very important element in the resilience of India has been a paradigm shift in public service delivery leading to sustainable and inclusive growth and I think that investors must take note of this as the reason behind India as a strengthened partner to the UK,” said Bery, who is currently on a visit to the UK.

“I think an aspiration of the FTA should be to make India an integrated partner, in both directions, into capabilities in both research and in technology that Britain brings to the table… few companies who have committed wholeheartedly to India and navigated the complexities of the society have regretted it, either in terms of profitability or fair treatment,” he said.

His message for the gathering of UK-based industry chiefs and investors was to focus on India’s “stable bureaucracy and a popular government”, as a country at least as diverse as the European Union (EU).

“There are strong bases for India’s stability and those of you who don’t know India well, please don’t be taken in by hysteria and headlines of exaggerated tensions and conflicts… sometimes the international press is not fully appreciative of the depth of the commitment and depth of the achievement in meeting its goals [of a developed country by 2047],” he said.

The showcase also heard from active investors in India, including HSBC which has one its largest international bases in India.

“India is an enormous opportunity with a clear and compelling investment case for investing there,” said Mark Tucker, Group Chairman of HSBC, who highlighted strong fundamentals, extensive digital infrastructure, focus on physical infrastructure investment and shifting global supply chains as the four pillars behind India’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

“The larger trade story is a good one and we look forward to ensuring that trade relationship and the investment relationship that we are developing between India and the UK continues to expand. What will be transformative going ahead will be the green solutions, for India’s own sake and for all of us on this planet, and there again the UK has a critical role to play,” said Vikram Doraiswami, India’s High Commissioner to the UK.

Panel discussions laying out the vast investment opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and green mobility and sustainable financing heard from sector experts including Invest India vice-president Rahul Agarwal, Chief Strategy Officer of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Prasad Gadkari, UK India Business Council Chair Richard Heald and Legal Adviser to India’s Department of Commerce Lakshmikumaran, among others.

(PTI)

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