India-UK trade deal ‘ready by autumn’

A trade deal between India and the UK is on track to be concluded by the autumn, according to New Delhi's commerce minister.

India-UK trade deal ‘ready by autumn’

22/04/2022. Delhi, India. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is welcomed by Prime Minister Modi at a ceremonial guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Piyush Goyal told the Financial Times that negotiations over a deal - regarded as the UK's most ambitious since leaving the European Union - had already reached agreement on almost half of the FTA's provisions.

“Whenever you have a free trade agreement, there is always a lot of give and take,” said Mr Goyal, who declined to reveal any outstanding differences between the two nations. “The challenges are there. But there are no challenges that cannot be overcome.”

One of the sticking points is believed to be Indian barriers to the UK's financial services firms, which negotiators will try to resolve this month when they meet in New Delhi for the latest round of talks .

Mr Goyal revealed that  11 of the proposed pact’s 26 chapters were already “dusted and ready” and that he believed the trade deal could be concluded “within the next few months”.

The FT pointed out that both the Indian and British governments had pushed trade diplomacy as a key part of their economic agendas.

"India is pursuing trade agreements with the EU and Canada after inking deals with the United Arab Emirates and Australia, while Downing Street sees an agreement with New Delhi as a centrepiece of its post-Brexit economic strategy," reported the 'paper.

"The mooted deal is expected to improve market access for goods such as British whisky and Indian textiles. But it also touches on politically sensitive areas, including potentially opening up the UK to more students and skilled workers from India."

Mr Goyal said his ambition was to help India become a $30 trillion economy within 30 years - ten times its current size.

“The world recognises there’s no other country in the world which offers a market like India, which offers one billion people aspiring for a better quality of life,” he said.

“A market which will probably grow ten times in the next 30 years, as against the developed world which will probably be two times or three times 30 years from now.”

Three weeks ago, the EU and India formally relaunched negotiations over an FTA, with the aim of completing a deal by the end of next year.

"This partnership will become a defining moment for world trade in the 21st century," Mr Goyal said at the time.

Talks over a deal between the two sides originally started in 2007 but were abandoned six years later because of lack of progress. Just over a year ago, Brussels and New Delhi agreed to revive discussions.

EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said that, for the EU, "the partnership with India is one of the most important relationships for the upcoming decade".

Read more news and views from David Sapsted, July articles.

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