India, UK Conclude "Productive" First Round Of Free Trade Agreement Talks

by PTI - Jan 29, 2022 08:59 AM +05:30 IST
India, UK Conclude "Productive" First Round Of Free Trade Agreement TalksPM Modi and British PM Boris Johnson

London, Jan 28 (PTI) India and the UK on Friday announced the conclusion of a 'productive' first round of free trade agreement (FTA) talks, held virtually between officials of both governments.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said during the course of the two-week round, which began earlier this month following the visit of UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, technical experts from both sides came together for discussions in 32 separate sessions covering 26 policy areas.

The DIT reiterated an end of the year timeline for the negotiations, saying that both teams maintain a 'shared ambition' to conclude negotiations by the end of 2022.

“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 positive discussions in round one have laid the groundwork for the UK and India to make positive and efficient progress,” the DIT said.

The policy areas covered in this round included 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, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), sustainability, transparency, trade and development, geographical indicators and digital.

The officials highlighted the importance of ensuring that the first round could proceed virtually, despite the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. The second round of negotiations is due to take place on March 7-18.

As part of the efforts on both the sides to secure a comprehensive agreement, the Chief Negotiators will continue to consider the benefits of an Interim Agreement, the UK government said.

An India-UK FTA is billed in the UK as creating huge benefits for both countries, with the potential to boost bilateral trade by up to GBP 28 billion a year by 2035 and increase wages by up to GBP 3 billion across the UK. A deal with India is also pegged as a “big step forward” in the UK’s post-Brexit strategy to refocus trade on the Indo-Pacific, home to half of the world’s population and 50 per cent of global economic growth.

The DIT has previously said the UK wants an agreement that slashes barriers to doing business and trading with India’s GBP 2 trillion economy and market of 1.4 billion consumers, including cutting tariffs on exports of British-made cars and Scotch whisky.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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