First round of FTA talks ‘productive’: UK and India

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During the first round, technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

India and the UK have concluded the first round of talks for an India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Friday.

On January 13, 2022, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal launched the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United Kingdom along with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, UK Secretary of State for International Trade in New Delhi.

The FTA is expected to facilitate the target of doubling bilateral trade between India and the United Kingdom by 2030, set by the Prime Ministers of both the nations, Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson in May 2021.

“It’s been a busy week for our negotiators – today we wrapped up round one talks on an FTA with India,” Anne-Marie Trevelyan tweeted.

“Our experts made great progress on key UK priorities including services, sustainability, trade and development and digital,” she added.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of ensuring this first round – held virtually over 2 weeks – could proceed despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first round of talks, technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas including: Trade in Goods, Trade in Services including Financial Services & Telecommunications, Investment, Intellectual Property, Customs and Trade Facilitation, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, Competition, Gender, Government Procurement, SMEs, Sustainability, Transparency, Trade and Development, Geographical Indicators and Digital.

“The negotiations were productive and reflected our shared ambition to secure a comprehensive deal to boost trade between the 5th and 6th largest economies in the world,” the UK Department for International Trade said in a statement.

“The positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and India to make positive and efficient progress,” it added. The second round of negotiations is due to take place on 7-18 March 2022.

On January 13, 2022, Piyush Goyal and Anne-Marie Trevelyan launched the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations in New Delhi.

Both teams maintain a shared ambition to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022 – as part of both sides’ efforts to secure a comprehensive agreement, Chief Negotiators will continue to consider the benefits of an Interim Agreement, the statement added.

India’s Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal had earlier said India-UK strategic and trade relationship has been boosted with the recent Free Trade Agreement (FTA) enacted between the two countries.

Earlier, the contours of the FTA was envisaged when Anne-Marie Trevelyan and India’s Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal met on January 13, 2022 for the 15th meeting of the India-UK Joint Economic and Trade Committee.

Goyal also said that both India and UK are committed to concluding negotiations on a comprehensive and balanced FTA, with the ambition to close negotiations by the end of 2022, including consideration of an Interim Trade Agreement to achieve early gains.

Also, he mentioned that India recognizes that the launch of the FTA marks a new phase in our strategic and trade relationship, delivering gains for both countries whilst building upon the bilateral commitments we have made to date.

On 7 October 2021, both India and UK met for the Fourth UK-India Multilateral Trade Dialogue (MTD), to build mutual understanding and cooperation to continue strengthening cooperation at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On the occasion of India’s 73rd Republic Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had recalled the Free Trade Agreement between India and the UK and also the joint manufacturing of Corona vaccine by the Oxford-AstraZeneca.

“The UK and India are tied by deep bonds that span through the generations and across some of the greatest modern day challenges we have faced. That is why I want to send my best wishes on behalf of the United Kingdom to the people of India, and to all the British Indians in the UK, on India’s Republic Day.”

“As two diverse democracies, I am proud of our strong friendship, demonstrated by the launch of free trade negotiations this month and our partnership manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. I look forward to fortifying those bonds as we bring our ambitions, people and economies together to prosper for the next 75 years and beyond.” the message read.

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