• Saturday, May 25, 2024

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UK pursues ‘ambitious’ trade deal with India as talks resume

UK officials said discussions resume in London this week to “continue talks under Round 14” of the negotiations

FILE PHOTO: Narendra Modi (L) with Rishi Sunak during the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima on May 21, 2023. (Photo by STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE government has said that it continues to work towards striking an “ambitious” trade deal with India as a negotiating team from Delhi resumed talks with their British counterparts in London this week.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) reiterated its stance of only signing a free trade agreement (FTA) that was in the best interests of the British people and economy.

Last month, DBT officials had indicated that formal trade negotiations were being paused for the course of India’s phased general election, though some talks were expected to carry on until the poll results are declared on June 4.

On Tuesday (16), UK officials said discussions resume in London this week to “continue talks under Round 14″ of the negotiations, which opened in January.

“The UK and India continue to work towards an ambitious trade deal that work for both countries,” a DBT spokesperson said.

“While we do not comment on the details of negotiations, we are clear that we will only sign a deal that is fair, balanced, and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy.”

It came as reports from New Delhi suggested a resumption of talks as the Indian team arrived in London to review the “very few” pending issues remaining in the path towards an agreement.

Senior Indian officials familiar with the discussions have indicated working towards a window for an FTA to be signed off after the Indian elections and before prime minister Rishi Sunak confirms the date for the UK general election, expected in the second half of the year.

The India-UK FTA negotiations, which opened in January 2022, are aimed at significantly enhancing bilateral trade – currently worth around £38.1 billion a year as per official statistics from earlier this year.

Last month, UK secretary of state for business and trade Kemi Badenoch said “the bigger the country, the more complex the trade agreement”.

“And also, the more different the economy is, the harder it is to negotiate…India is still very protectionist, where we are very, very liberalised,” she said.

The UK wants India to significantly reduce tariffs on exports and India in turn is concerned about the fairness of rules applied to Indian professionals.

(PTI)

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