In an endorsement of the calibration in India-UK bilateral relations with the launch of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) has welcomed the development saying that an FTA can turbocharge trade between the countries, spur bilateral investment flows and reduce barriers. It is building on the more than 500 UK businesses invested in India employing more than 400,000 people, and over 850 Indian companies in the UK employing over 95,000 people.

The negotiations launched by Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan proposes an increase in India’s exports in leather, textile, jewellery and processed agricultural products to the UK, additional market access for India on pharma and doubling of the India-UK bilateral trade by 2030.

Goyal called for enhancement of sectoral cooperation between India and the UK by addressing market access issues and removing trade restrictions. The two partner countries have also kept open the possibility of an interim agreement to provide quick gains for benefiting businesses in both nations. India and the UK are looking forward to a mutually beneficial trade deal with balanced concessions and market access packages in a wide range of sectors.

Our endeavour is to deliver a comprehensive, balanced, fair and equitable FTA, to benefit our small, medium and micro-enterprises in both nations,” said Goyal addressing a joint media briefing with Anne-Marie Trevelyan. According to UKIBC Executive Chair, Richard Heald, it matters greatly – for businesses and consumers – when the world’s 5th and 6th largest economies negotiate an FTA. On behalf of business, we are particu pleased that the negotiations are going to be broad and ambitious, cover-marine ing goods and services, particularly the IP-rich, digitally-driven services where the UK and India already excel.”

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The Indian negotiating team will be led by Nidhi Mani Tripathi, Joint Secretary of the Department of Commerce and the UK negotiating team will be led by Harjinder Kang, Director for India Negotiations at the Department for International Trade. Against a backdrop of an already significant India-UK bilateral trading relationship, the FTA is being seen as a substantial opportunity for both the economies to double trade by 2030 as part of the Roadmap 2030′ an- nounced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 2021.

“Trade negotiations will be a priority for both countries, as we build upon the Enhanced Trade Partnership launched by our Prime Ministers in May 2021,” the joint statement of the two ministers noted. India would also be seeking special arrangements for movement of its people as it looks for reaping other potential benefits in enhanced exports in service sectors like IT/ITES, nursing, education, healthcare, Ayush and audio-visual services. India could also register a quantum jump in the export of marine products through the recognition of 56 units of India.

Subsequent to the unveiling of FTA, the two nations would proactively and regularly engage with each other, for deliberating on the scope and coverage of the trade deal.

According to UKIBC, businesses want to see three focus areas in particular – a reduction in tariffs, for example in food and drink and healthcare, a greater alignment of standards and simplified customs procedures and alignment of data protection rules and IP practises, so as to realise the full potential of the India UK partnership, particularly in the innovative, R&D-intensive sectors that will drive the partnership in the years and decades to come.

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