• Friday, December 09, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

UK-India bilateral talks focus on ‘2030 roadmap’ for free trade agreement

FILE PHOTO: India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (R) gestures to Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as they arrive for a press interaction following their ‘India-UK Ministerial Dialogue’ meeting in New Delhi on December 15, 2020. (Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab and Indian external affairs minister Dr Jaishankar held a virtual two hour meeting on Thursday (6) focussing on implementing the ‘2030 roadmap’ of the India-UK enhanced trade partnership (ETP) to pave the way for a free trade agreement (FTA).

Both the ministers also discussed Indo-Pacific cooperation and global health challenges in detail, a statement said.

“Just concluded the bilateral foreign ministers’ meeting with British counterpart Dominic Raab. Focussed on our responsibility for implementing the 2030 roadmap. Confident that we will see early progress on many fronts,” Jaishankar tweeted.

“Also explored our strategic convergences across regions. Discussed the Indo-Pacific, global health challenges and UN cooperation in some detail.”

A foreign, commonwealth & development office spokesperson said: “On climate change both ministers agreed that it was important to build on the momentum growing among the international community ahead of COP26 in Glasgow. They discussed regional issues including the UK’s successful application for ASEAN Dialogue Partner status, and how the two countries and ASEAN nations could work together to bring an end to the military coup in Myanmar.

“Finally, they discussed the need for deeper collaboration to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and agreed on the need for swift and equitable access to vaccines around the world.”

The bilateral meeting follows a virtual summit between UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Tuesday (4), when the two leaders agreed the ‘2030 roadmap’ as part of an ETP with trade and investment deals worth around £1 billion.

The ETP, signed between commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal and UK international trade secretary Liz Truss soon after, sets the goal for FTA talks to kick-start within months.

The roadmap will pave the way for a deeper and stronger engagement over the next ten years in areas of people to people contacts, trade and economy, defence and security, climate action and health.

Modi and Johnson launched the ETP to unleash the trade potential between the fifth and sixth largest economies of the world, and by setting an ambitious target of more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030.

As part of the ETP, India and the UK agreed on a roadmap to negotiate a comprehensive and balanced FTA, including consideration of an interim trade agreement for delivering early gains, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.

The enhanced trade partnership between India and UK will generate several thousands of direct and indirect jobs in both the countries, it added.

The meeting is related to the UK’s G7 Presidency goals ahead of the Leaders’ Summit in Cornwall in June, to which Modi has been invited.

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