By: Chandrashekar Bhat
BRITAIN’S secretary of state for international trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan will launch Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations during a visit to New Delhi starting on Wednesday (12), the UK government has said.
The schedule for the two-day visit to India will include bilateral talks between Trevelyan and the south Asian nation’s commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday (13), the Department for International Trade (DIT).
Trevelyan and Goyal are expected to discuss a range of issues, including green trade and the removal of market access barriers for both UK and Indian businesses, DIT said on Sunday (9).
Both ministers are then expected to confirm the launch of official negotiations on a new UK-India FTA.
“The UK and India are already close friends and trading partners, and building on that strong relationship is a priority for 2022,” said Trevelyan.
“I will be using my visit to drive forward an ambitious trade agenda which represents the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt in action and shows how we are seizing global opportunities as an independent trading nation,” she said.
“This is just the start of a five-star year of UK trade, forging closer economic partnerships around the globe…” she added.
On Thursday (13), the UK minister will join Goyal to co-host the 15th UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) to review how businesses in both countries are benefiting from existing market access commitments under the Enhanced Trade Partnership agreed on last May by prime ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi.
The DIT said the UK trade secretary is expected to meet external affairs minister S Jaishankar, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and environment minister Bhupender Yadav.
On Wednesday (12), Trevelyan will meet the staff of British company JCB to talk about how manufacturing and engineering firms could benefit from the UK-India trade deal. The company is dubbed a UK “export success story”, having been in India for over 40 years and employing over 5,000 people in the country.
According to the latest DIT figures, the total trade in goods and services between the UK and India was £23.3 billion in 2019, making India the UK’s 15th largest trading partner. Indian investment in the UK supports 95,000 jobs, with 15,000 new jobs created by Indian investment in the last three years.
“A trade deal could help increase this further and will play a key role in our ambition to double trade with India by 2030”, the UK government said.
It added: “India is one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies and a bold new deal would put UK businesses at the front of the queue to export to India’s growing middle class of a quarter of a billion consumers.”
“India is set to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2050, with a bigger population than the US and EU combined.”