UK govt working with India for FTAs, says Cleverly


The U.K. will be the first European country to join the CPTPP should it succeed in becoming a member…reports Asian Lite News

UK is “working intensely” with India to achieve the Free Trade Agreements soon, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

This comes after Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said the UK is keen to stick to the Diwali deadline for free trade agreements. “We have signed Free Trade Agreements with Australia and New Zealand – and we are working intensely to agree one with India soon”, the foreign secretary Cleverly said.

In a keynote speech at the 9th Annual Milken Asia Summit, while setting out the UK’s continued commitment in the Indo-Pacific region, the UK foreign secretary noted, “We were the first European country to secure a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India. And we intend to be the first European country to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It will give the region access to the UK’s world-class financial services sector as well as, as well as the world’s sixth largest economy. That’s why engagement between the UK and Indo-Pacific needs to cover the broadest spectrum of activity.”

Earlier, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said the UK is keen to stick to the Diwali deadline for India-UK free trade agreement and both countries are working towards it.

He referred to the passing away of Queen Elizabeth II and said “as we are expanding our engagements, the UK is at a cusp”. “I received a letter from the UK again reiterating that they want to stick to the Diwali deadline (for the India-UK Free Trade Agreement),” Goyal had said at an event in New Delhi.

Speaking of India’s engagements and the quest to become self-reliant, Goyal said, “If we don’t engage with the international market, we are the losers…Today the whole world is talking of Atmanirbhar…There is no power that can stop us from becoming a developed nation in the next 25 years…The world wants to engage with us, the world has more confidence in us than we have.”

British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis had also said that India and the United Kingdom have the high ambition of completing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by Diwali this year. He had said that the agreement will increase employment and bring economic development to India over the next 25 years.

“Both, India and UK need to grow because we have great ambitions from both prime ministers. FTA is one of the best ways we can support the growth and development of India’s economy and India’s employment over the next 25 years. Now is the time to write a new chapter in our history as partners and support each other in our growth,” the UK High Commissioner told ANI on the sidelines of an event held in New Delhi.

On being asked, if it could be a “Diwali Dhamaka”, the UK High Commissioner nodded, saying, “I hope so.”

“I think we have high ambition on completing the FTA by Diwali. The FTA will create more jobs, more growth, and more opportunities for India to grow and develop,” he added.

The two countries concluded the fifth round of talks for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) last month.

‘Strategic shift to Indo-Pacific is permanent’

Britain will commit itself more fully to the Indo-Pacific region, beyond its ongoing efforts to join a massive trade deal in the region, the country’s new foreign secretary said Thursday.

“The Indo-Pacific tilt is here to stay,” James Cleverly said at the Milken Institute Asia Summit. “It is permanent.”

That “tilt” toward the Indo-Pacific will include further cooperation on economic issues, security matters and “shared values,” Cleverly said.

The foreign secretary pointed to “our commitment to sovereignty and territorial integrity and freedom from economic coercion, and a shared belief in the value of democracy and open markets.”

Cleverly said that 1.7 million British citizens live in the region, and the United Kingdom has trade relationships worth $250 billion in the Indo-Pacific.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, is a trade pact that currently includes seven countries in Asia-Pacific and four in the Americas. It evolved out of the now-defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade bloc that was originated by the United States but which fell apart after former President Donald Trump scrapped U.S. involvement.

The United Kingdom is in the process of joining the CPTPP, a move that it hopes would help it diversify its trade partnerships, particularly since the country departed from the European Union.

The U.K. will be the first European country to join the CPTPP should it succeed in becoming a member.

China is also applying to join the CPTPP but has not made as much progress as the United Kingdom has. Cleverly said any discussion of the Indo-Pacific region had to include China, acknowledging that the country is a “driver of growth” that has successfully lifted millions of its citizens from poverty.

“But the lesson I take from watching China over my lifetime is that when China departs from global rules and norms, when it aligns itself with countries like Russia, its standing in the world suffers,” Cleverly said.

China President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin sealed a “no limits” partnership in February, only days before Russian troops stormed into Ukraine, starting a war that has taken tens of thousands of lives and continues to rage almost eight months later.

Cleverly has held his current role for only three weeks, but he said those three weeks had been “pretty intense.” Among other events, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II died in that period, and the United Nations General Assembly took place in New York City.

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