“My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations — from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence.”..reports Asian Lite News
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India next week, in the backdrop of Russian invasion of Ukraine that has led to some divergences in Delhi’s and London’s positions on the crisis.
Johnson, who arrives in Ahmedabad on April 21, is expected to announce major investment in key industries in both the UK and India, boosting jobs and growth at home, as well as new collaboration on cutting-edge science, health and technology.
In New Delhi, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 22 for bilateral talks “in the face of global economic challenges and threats from autocratic states”, a British High Commission statement said.
The High Commission said that Johnson will visit India this week to “deepen our long-term partnership for peace and prosperity with a fellow leading democracy, in the face of global economic challenges and threats from autocratic states”.
In Ahmedabad, Johnson will have a meeting with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India’s “thriving commercial, trade and people links”, the statement said. This will be the first time a UK Prime Minister visits Gujarat, India’s fifth largest state and ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK, it said.
Johnson, who will meet Modi the following day, will hold “in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering our close partnership and stepping up security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific”, the British High Commission said.
The statement said he will use the visit to drive progress in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations launched earlier this year — a deal with India is predicted to boost “our total trade by up to £28 billion annually by 2035 and increase wages across the UK by up to £3 billion”.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Johnson said: “As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times.
“My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations — from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence.”
Last year, Modi and Johnson had agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than £530m in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security, and connecting our people. India was identified as a priority relationship for the UK in the 2021 Integrated Review and was invited by the UK as a guest to last year’s G7 in Carbis Bay.
The UK is leveraging post-Brexit trade opportunities with India’s growing economy to drive down prices in key commodities for consumers, open opportunities for UK businesses in areas such as green tech and services, and create high-wage, high-skill jobs, the High Commission’s statement said.
Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK, which is expected to be boosted by upcoming announcements and a future free trade deal.
Parliament returns from its Easter vacation on Tuesday and Johnson has said he would “set the record straight” about gatherings in his office. He had previously told lawmakers there were no parties and guidance was always followed.
But the visit will be overshadowed in part by disagreement over the Ukraine conflict.
Western allies have called for India, which imports arms from Russia, to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin in stronger terms, and U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this week told Modi that buying more oil from Russia was not in India’s interest.
British trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also said last month Britain was very disappointed with India’s stance. However, Johnson’s office made no direct reference to the conflict, although a source said it was expected Ukraine would be discussed “among other geopolitical issues”.
Johnson said India, as a major economic power, was a highly valued strategic partner.
“As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together,” he said in a statement. Last year, he was forced to cancel a planned trip to India because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last May, the two countries announced a partnership involving more than 530 million pounds of Indian investment into Britain, and Downing Street said Johnson was expected to announce further major investment and new collaboration on cutting-edge science, health and technology.