India, UK conclude 6th round talks on FTA
Discussions were held across 11 policy areas in 28 different sessions. The next round is scheduled to be held early next year.
New Delhi, Dec 23: Representatives of India and the United Kingdom recently held the sixth round talks for finalising the free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Discussions were held across 11 policy areas in 28 different sessions. The seventh round will be held early next year, said sources.
The senior officials of both the countries have agreed to conclude the talks at the earliest as it is already delayed much beyond the deadline. The FTA is to be signed between the two counties to improve the trade ties with mutually beneficial agreements, under which a wide range of goods, services and manpower are mutually exchanged via imports and export mechanisms.
The negotiations are happening after a brief gap due to recent political developments in the UK. The talks were reportedly derailed due to UK Home Minister Suella Braverman’s comments over Indians overstaying their visas. Official sources said that they are not chasing a deadline as they want to secure a good deal. But, given the progress made, the agreement may be finalised over four-five months.
India and Britain launched negotiations for the FTA in January this year with a target to conclude it by Diwali (October 24), but the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK. The last round of talks were held on July 29, 2022. The trade in passenger vehicles is one of the areas of negotiations between both the countries.
Last month, Union Minister for Industry and Commerce Piyush Goyal said this FTA will be mutually beneficial for both the economies. “Things are progressing in the right track, it will yield good results for sure. We are all very well aware that it was progressing very fast until we had a little bit of a blip because of political happenings in the other country… We have a stable government… in office now (in the UK) and I am already in touch with my (UK) counterpart,” he had added.
Round 6 of FTA negotiations: UK-India look to conclude negotiations early
“We are working together to possibly have an in-person meeting also very soon but our teams are already engaged. Next month, the next round of negotiations are slated to happen,” Goyal had said.
There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights. Reduction or elimination of customs duty under the pact would help Indian labour-intensive sectors like textiles, leather, gems and jewellery to boost exports in the UK market.
The UK is seeking duty concessions in areas like Scotch whiskey and automobiles. The bilateral trade between the two countries increased to USD 17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to USD 13.2 billion in 2020-21. India’s exports stood at USD 10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imports were USD 7 billion. International commitments must be taken only after the domestic regulatory framework is in place. And both must be in sync. New non-trade issues may serve as non-trade barriers and hamper our exports in the future,” a report of Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) said.
Developed regions like the European Union and the UK are pushing to include these new issues in the proposed trade pact with India.
Story first published: Friday, December 23, 2022, 17:21 [IST]
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