Updated March 8th, 2024 at 14:04 IST

India-UK FTA possible before India's general elections, but no rush: UK trade minister

Negotiations between India and the UK commenced in January 2022, aiming to enhance the existing £36 billion bilateral trade partnership.

Reported by: Business Desk
UK-India FTA negotiations | Image:Reuters
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UK-India trade deal: Negotiations for a trade deal between the UK and India are advancing, with UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, suggesting that a conclusion could be reached before India's upcoming general election. However, she stressed that the UK is not imposing the election as a deadline for finalising the agreement.

Speaking at a Global Trade conference hosted by the think tank Chatham House in London, Badenoch highlighted the challenges posed by India's protectionist economic policies in contrast to the UK's more liberalised regime. She stressed the importance of achieving a "commercially meaningful" pact rather than settling for a superficial agreement for political optics.

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Acknowledging the disparity between India's protectionism and the UK's liberalisation, Badenoch emphasised the need for tangible benefits from the agreement, citing successful FTAs with Australia and Japan as examples. Despite the potential for concluding the deal before India's election, Badenoch cautioned against setting rigid deadlines that could impede the negotiation process.

Negotiations between India and the UK commenced in January 2022, aiming to enhance the existing £36 billion bilateral trade partnership. The thirteenth round of talks concluded in December last year, with both sides optimistic about reaching an agreement in the ongoing fourteenth round.

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Key sticking points in the negotiations include the UK's push for India to lower tariffs on exports such as food, automobiles, and whisky, which currently face tariffs as high as 150 per cent. India, on the other hand, is seeking fairness in the treatment of its workers temporarily transferred to the UK on business visas.

In her address at the trade conference, Badenoch emphasised the importance of striking a balance between supporting the import of goods from developing countries while upholding British standards of quality and safety. She underscored the role of free trade agreements in diversification and resilience, particularly amid the UK's Indo-Pacific pivot.

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(With PTI inputs.)
 

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Published March 8th, 2024 at 09:33 IST