India, UK agree on way forward to launch Free Trade Agreement talks

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New Delhi/London/UNI: India and the UK have agreed on the way forward to launch negotiations later this year on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement, including kicking off a series of trade working groups from September.

This was decided during a discussion between Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and UK’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss on Monday on ways to enhance the India-UK trade partnership and take forward negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement.

“Held a productive discussion with Secretary of State for International trade, UK Rt Hon @TrussLiz on enhancing the India-UK trade partnership.

“India and UK are strengthening trade ties by moving towards an early harvest deal, followed by a comprehensive FTA,” Goyal tweeted on Monday.

According to a press statement from the British High Commission on Tuesday, Truss spoke with Goyal on Monday to discuss the scope and ambition for a UK-India free trade agreement following the close of the Department for International Trade’s public consultation last month.

“They discussed the findings from the consultation and agreed on the steps to get ready to launch negotiations later this year – including the start of a series of trade working groups from September,” the press statement said.

These discussions between the two sides will help both sides better understand each other’s position on potential chapter areas in any trade deal, including tariffs, standards, IP and data regulation.

They also discussed the newly-established Enhanced Trade Partnership, and confirmed their commitment to timely implementation of the market access package, it said.

Truss reaffirmed her ambition to negotiate a trade agreement that delivers results for the British people and businesses, including those in digital and data, tech and food and drink. Both ministers agreed that continuing to engage with the business community was vital throughout the forthcoming negotiations.

Findings from the Department for International Trade’s consultation will be published before the start of negotiations as part of a wider package outlining a strategic rationale for the FTA, including the UK’s negotiating objectives and economic analysis of a potential deal, the statement said.

According to data, the UK is likely to seek larger market access for items apart from automobiles and wines and spirits, with trade diversification a key goal for London in the aftermath of Brexit.

India would seek to make gains by exploring new export market ground in areas where it faces high tariffs like apparel, textiles, and footwear.

The UK’s total trade in goods and services with India increased by 51 percent from 9.8 billion pounds in 2011 to 14.8 billion pounds in 2019.