India-UK Free Trade Agreement Talks to Resume

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Officials from India and the United Kingdom are scheduled for the 14th round of negotiations on a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) this month, following the election of the UK’s new government. The discussions aim to address outstanding issues in the goods and services sectors, with both nations expressing a commitment to expedite a mutually beneficial trade deal.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Keir Starmer spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged the need to conclude an FTA that worked for both sides. The two leaders agreed to work towards the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial India-U.K. FTA.

India is advocating for increased access for its skilled professionals and duty-free entry for various goods, while the UK is focused on lowering import duties for products such as Scotch whisky and seeking greater market access for its services sector. The negotiations also encompass a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and intellectual property rights, covering 26 chapters.

Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to USD 21.34 billion in 2023-24. The UK’s new administration has prioritized finalizing the FTA, with the Foreign Secretary planning a visit to India to advance the talks. The Global Trade Research Initiative indicates that the agreement is near completion.

The FTA talks, which began in January 2022, had been paused during the election cycles of both countries. The upcoming meeting will mark the 14th round of negotiations. Recently, the UK Prime Minister spoke with the Indian Prime Minister, reaffirming his commitment to concluding an FTA that benefits both nations. Both leaders have agreed to expedite the finalization of a mutually advantageous trade deal.

Key issues remain in both the goods and services sectors. Indian industries are advocating for greater access for skilled professionals in IT and healthcare, along with duty-free entry for various goods. On the other side, the UK is pushing for reduced import duties on items such as Scotch whisky, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates, and confectioneries. Additionally, the UK seeks expanded opportunities for its services in India’s telecommunications, legal, and financial sectors.

The negotiations also include a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and cover 26 chapters, encompassing goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights. Bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to USD 21.34 billion in 2023-24, up from USD 20.36 billion in 2022-23.

The Labour Party has reiterated its commitment to finalizing the FTA. The new Foreign Secretary of the UK plans to visit India within the first month in office to push forward the negotiations. According to the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI), the agreement is nearly finalized, with only minor adjustments needed, such as reducing the number of visas for Indian professionals.

 

 

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