Bilateral investment treaty key to FTA talks, says McCole

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He argued that it would also be in India’s interest to put such a treaty in place…reports Asian Lite News

With 14 of the 26 chapters in the India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) already finalised, the next round of talks will focus on three chapters and especially the prospect of a bilateral investment treaty, according to Kevin McCole, managing director of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) — a non-profit body that works with governments and firms to promote trade and business ties between the two countries.

McCole said, “[UK investors] will be considering what protection they have in India as investors or what legal recourse is there? If there’s no bilateral investment treaty, then that becomes a factor in the decision-making that happens at the board level.”

He argued that it would also be in India’s interest to put such a treaty in place.

The India-UK FTA, for which five rounds of talks have taken place, was earlier slated to be concluded by Diwali this year. Reports indicate that the Indian government is now looking to finalise the agreement by March 2023.

Without confirming whether the UK is following this new timeline, McCole said London “would not want to compromise quality for speed”.

McCole has previously written about the importance of former UK PM Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi being “long-standing friends”. He was asked how this compares to Modi’s relationship with the current UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak.

“There was a real chemistry between Mr Modi and Mr Johnson which would have played an important role in the end-game,” said McCole.

“The personal relationship (between Modi and Sunak) is at a nascent stage but the relationship between the two countries isn’t. There’s also the 2030 roadmap that both governments remain committed to,” he said, adding that Sunak’s “family background” helps in understanding a country and economy like India.

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