• Saturday, March 02, 2024


UK Parliament panel criticises lack of information on FTA talks with India

House of Commons International Trade Committee chair Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said the panel has obtained more details about the talks from the Indian media

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP (Photo: parliament.uk)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

A cross-party Parliament committee has criticised the lack of information on Britain’s ongoing negotiations with India for a free trade agreement (FTA).

The House of Commons International Trade Committee said on Friday (21) that in many cases, it gleaned more detail on the talks from reports in the Indian media often citing unnamed government officials.

India and the UK are negotiating an FTA to enhance the bilateral trading relationship worth £34 billion in 2022, with the eighth round of negotiations concluding in New Delhi at the end of last month.

“Parliament must be kept more fully informed about the negotiations. It cannot be right that we have obtained more details from the Indian media than we have from the UK government,” said the committee chair and Scottish National Party MP Angus Brendan MacNeil.

“A trade deal with India is an opportunity to enhance our trading relationship with the fifth-largest economy in the world. But this agreement must not come at any cost.”

“As our report highlights, there are important issues at stake, including potential impacts on NHS drug costs, human and labour rights, gender equality and pesticide standards,” he said.

In its report entitled ‘UK trade negotiations: Agreement with India’, the committee welcomed the decision of prime minister Rishi Sunak’s government to not set any new deadline for the deal after his predecessor Boris Johnson’s widely trailed deadline to get a deal with India done by Diwali last year.

“We welcome the fact that the government is no longer putting arbitrary deadlines on trade negotiations. While the Diwali date was unrealistic, it is positive that government has adopted an approach that evaluates the benefit of the trade deal before finalising any agreement,” the report notes.

One issue highlighted in the report is the need to reconcile the UK government’s wish to see India’s patent laws tightened to benefit UK drug companies with the need to maintain the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) access to cheap generic drugs produced in India.

Its report suggests the possibility of attaching to any trade liberalisation in the deal the condition that India implement UN and International Labour Organisation human rights conventions, and showing that goods meet environmental sustainability and animal welfare requirements.


Eastern Eye

Related Stories

Eastern Eye


Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…