With the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to visit this year, officials from India and the UK are working towards firming up a proposed Free Trade agreement. In an interaction with the media persons, Alex Ellis, UK High Commissioner to India said, “Traditionally India has not been very enthusiastic about trade deals. There is a shift and a desire for bilateral trade deals with countries including the UK.”
While the trade negotiations are complex in nature, according to the new High Commissioner, “Both countries had complementary economies and this is one big growth area.”
Why the Trade deal?
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union, New Delhi is keen on a FTA with that country. Why? Because the UK is an important trade partner and is also an attractive market for the service providers from India.
As part of an early harvest programme in lieu of matching benefits, according to reports, India is likely to give greater market access to Scotch whisky from that country.
India has been invited to the G-7 meeting later this summer. The High Commissioner expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend it.
According to senior officials, there is no clarity yet whether the G-7 meeting will be in person or in the virtual mode.
India had also been invited for the D-10 group (which includes democratic partners Australia, South Korea and India in addition to the G-7).
In response to a query, the top British diplomat expressed hope that there is a swift settlement of the Cairn Dispute. According to him, “It was no secret that there are discussions going on between the two sides on this matter.”
What is the dispute?
India has lost It is over retrospective taxes and India losing the international arbitration case.
India-UK Trade Relations
Working towards an enhanced trade partnership later this year, both countries already have a strong and growing trade relationship. As reported earlier, before the global pandemic the bilateral trade between the two countries had witnessed a vibrant 11 per cent increase.
In the last decade there has been a steady rise in the bilateral trade between the two countries. The bilateral trade between the two countries has touched US 15.48 billion in 2019-20.
India and the UK are also fast-tracking discussions on concluding a comprehensive migration and mobility partnership agreement. Once this is concluded and inked it will allow in the faster movement of students and professionals in both directions.
In response to a question relation to the new graduate scheme announced recently, he said, “Under this New Graduate Scheme, the students can now work in the UK after finishing their studies. This scheme is going to help a large number of Indian students who will benefit from it.”
The two sides are also keen on strengthening cooperation in Cyber security; joint defence production as well as promoting vaccine production.