By: Chandrashekar Bhat
A BRITISH parliamentary delegation will arrive in New Delhi on Sunday (9) for a four-city tour to explore two-way trade and research and development collaborations.
The cross-party delegation, being led by Indian-origin peer Baroness Sandy Verma, is scheduled to hold meetings with senior ministers and business leaders with the backing of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
The discussions come against the backdrop of the eighth round of negotiations between officials on both sides towards a free trade agreement (FTA).
The tour, which will also cover Ahmedabad, Pune and Mumbai, marks a parliamentary visit from the UK to India after a six-year gap.
“As president of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on India (Trade & Investment), I am delighted to be co-leading this delegation,” said Verma.
“It is long overdue as the last parliamentary delegation to India was six years ago. We are looking forward to engaging with senior Indian ministers to discuss matters ranging from the FTA to green technology, to gender inclusivity. Research and development is a key thematic area of the UK-India relationship and the delegation will explore further ways to enhance it,” she said.
The India (Trade and Investment) APPG was created last year to coincide with the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and is made up of 25 British members of Parliament and peers of different political affiliations.
With a stated goal to promote trade and investment between India and the UK for the mutual betterment of their citizens, whilst building an inclusive living bridge between the two countries, the new APPG is geared towards supporting the FTA negotiations and promoting its benefits once concluded.
During their first India visit, the group is scheduled to hold talks with the foreign secretary, commerce secretary and visit IIT Delhi while in the capital.
In Ahmedabad, they have scheduled meetings with Gujarat chief minister Bhupendrabhai Patel and a visit to GIFT City before a possible tour to the Serum Institute of India in Pune. The visit will conclude next weekend in Mumbai.
According to official UK government statistics, the India-UK bilateral trading relationship was worth £34 billion in 2022 growing by £10 bn in one year.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the country’s leading industry body, estimates an India-UK FTA could boost trade with India by £28 bn a year by 2035 and increase wages across the UK by £3 bn.