• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

New UK government is as committed to FTA, says India commerce minister

He said the initial comments made by the new Labour government of the UK, which took charge last week, are ‘very’ encouraging.

Indian commerce and trade minister Piyush Goyal (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIAN commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday (10) said the new government of the UK is as committed to the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) as the Indian government.

He said the initial comments made by the new Labour government of the UK, which took charge last week, are “very” encouraging.

“The Labour Party is deeply committed as is the Modi government (for the FTA),” he told reporters in New Delhi.

Britain’s newly elected prime minister Keir Starmer spoke to prime minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (6) and said he stood ready to conclude an FTA that worked for both sides.

Read: What’s holding up UK-India FTA?

The two leaders agreed to work towards the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial India-UK FTA. The India-UK talks for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) began in January 2022.

The 14th round of talks stalled as the two nations stepped into their general election cycles.

In an FTA, two or more trading partners either significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. Besides, they also ease norms to promote and facilitate trade in services and investments. There are pending issues in both the goods and services sectors.

Read: UK FTA talks close ahead of India’s 2024 election schedule

The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duty.

On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates and certain confectionary items.

Britain is also looking for more opportunities for UK services in Indian markets in segments like telecommunications, legal and financial services (banking and insurance).

The two countries are also negotiating a bilateral investment treaty (BIT). There are 26 chapters in the agreement, which include goods, services, investments and intellectual property rights. The bilateral trade between India and the UK increased to $21.34 billion in 2023-24 from $20.36 billion in 2022-23. The Labour Party’s election manifesto for the recent polls also committed to clinching the deal.

(With PTI inputs)

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