• Sunday, September 24, 2023


Sitharaman says India hopes to conclude free trade deal with UK in 2023

‘I won’t be wrong in saying a free trade agreement with UK is very close,’ the finance minister said at an industry conference in New Delhi.

Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the B20 Summit India 2023, in New Delhi on Friday, August 25, 2023. (ANI Photo/Mohd Zakir)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIAN finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday (25) said that the country is hopeful about concluding talks over a free trade deal with Britain by the end of the current year.

Her remark came in the middle of broad contours of the deal aimed at boosting economic growth and employment opportunities.

Sitharaman also spoke as the trade minister of Britain, Kemi Badenoch visited India for a G20 event.

“I won’t be wrong in saying a free trade agreement with UK is very close,” Sitharaman said at an industry conference in New Delhi.

India’s trade and commerce minister Piyush Goyal also said on the same day at a separate press conference that while the deal doesn’t have a deadline, New Delhi is committed to “a good outcome at the fastest possible speed”.

In a panel session at the B20 summit in the Indian capital, Badenoch also said that his Indian counterpart promised her that the free trade agreement would be “the most ambitious free trade agreement”.

“You can see him smiling because he’s just on the cusp of delivering this for us,” she said, according to a Reuters report.

On Thursday, she told reporters that the deal was in the “final stages” and she was optimistic about a mutually beneficial agreement.

However, the UK minister could not give a deadline as the toughest part of negotiations often arrived at the end.

While India views a trade deal with Britain important as it plans to emerge a bigger exporter, the latter is keen to expand trade opportunities after Brexit.

Issues over which an agreement is still due are intellectual property rights, rules of origin and an investment treaty, and campaigners requested Britain not to seek provisions that might undermine India’s generic drugs industry and make its products costlier.

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