India and the UK Reaffirm FTA Commitment in a Strategic Discussion

During the annual UK-India Strategic Dialogue held here, India and the United Kingdom reiterated their commitment to finalizing a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) in light of the “good progress” made on the 2030 Roadmap since the previous review.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, who is now visiting the UK, had talks with Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Philip Barton at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Following their discussion, the FCDO said that the two leaders discussed the next stage of bilateral cooperation as well as the progress achieved on the UK-India 2030 Roadmap since the previous strategic dialogue in January of last year.

“The two noted important areas where the UK and India have collaborated to address some of the world’s biggest challenges, reflecting on the good progress on the 2030 Roadmap since the last review,” the FCDO said in a statement.

“This included working closely on India’s successful G20 Presidency, developing the first malaria vaccine in history, and expanding opportunities for students and entrepreneurs under the Migration and Mobility Partnership.” The statement said, “This year’s dialogue included the ongoing commitment to negotiate a mutually beneficial free trade agreement (FTA) and enhance defense cooperation, in addition to celebrating the milestones since the last review.”

The objective of the India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) discussions, which started in January 2022, is to greatly augment bilateral commerce, which stands at around 38.1 billion pounds annually, according to official figures released earlier this year. The 14th round of discussions is now underway; however, they are moving more slowly because of the staggered general elections in India.

Previously, the Indian High Commission in London said that Kwatra also held a “fruitful meeting” with James Cartlidge, the UK Minister of State for Defense Procurement, whereby they deliberated on current defense capabilities cooperation projects between India and the UK as well as potential possibilities for future collaboration.

“It gives us great pleasure to have Indian Foreign Secretary Kwatra visit London and emphasize how committed the UK is to strengthening its relationship with India. Following his discussion with the Foreign Secretary, which his office stated addressed the FTA, migration, and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, FCDO Minister for South Asia, said, “I look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength, working together on trade, defense, climate, and health.”

India and the UK signed the 2030 Roadmap in 2021, which outlines agreements to strengthen cooperation by that time in the areas of science and technology, commerce, health, education, and defense.

This week, Foreign Secretary Kwatra conducted a number of cross-departmental meetings as part of the UK-India Strategic Dialogue. These included discussions with UK Home Office Minister Matthew Rycroft on how to facilitate legitimate migration while reducing unlawful flows.

The Indian embassy in London said, “They recognized the need to further enhance cooperation in tackling extremism and terrorism.”

Senior officials covered important areas of bilateral relations and the larger global security picture during their meeting with the UK National Security Adviser (NSA).

The FTA is divided into 26 chapters covering investments, intellectual property rights, products, and services.

In addition to market access for various commodities at zero customs tax, the Indian industry is asking for more access for its trained people from industries like IT and healthcare in the UK market.

Conversely, the UK is requesting a large reduction in import taxes on products including electric cars, lamb, chocolate, and certain candies, as well as Scotch whiskey.

Additionally, Britain is searching for new chances to provide UK services in Indian markets, particularly in the areas of financial services (banking and insurance), legal services, and telecommunications.

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