INDIA AND THE UK ASSESS THE ADVANCEMENT OF THEIR FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (FTA)

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India and the UK conducted a review of the progress in their negotiations for the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which has now reached its final stages. This review took place on Saturday and was led by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch in Osaka, Japan. Both ministers are currently in Japan for the Group of Seven (G7) trade ministers meeting.

Goyal shared on the social media platform X, ‘Had discussions with UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch regarding the progress of the India-UK free trade agreement negotiations.’

Negotiations between senior officials from India and the UK are ongoing, focusing on resolving differences in areas such as rules of origin and the services sector, with the goal of concluding the FTA negotiations as soon as possible.

The India-UK trade agreement talks were initiated in January 2022 with an initial target to conclude by Diwali last year (October 24, 2022). However, the deadline was missed due to political developments in the UK. The agreement consists of 26 chapters covering goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights. Simultaneously, an investment treaty is being negotiated as a separate agreement between the two countries. These investment treaties are designed to promote and safeguard investments in each other’s countries. The main point of contention in this agreement is the mechanism for dispute resolution.

The Indian industry is seeking increased access for its skilled professionals, particularly in sectors like IT and healthcare, in the UK market, as well as greater market access for various goods with no customs duty. On the other hand, the UK is looking for substantial reductions in import duties on products such as Scotch whiskey, automobiles, lamb meat, chocolates, and certain confectionery items. Britain is also interested in expanding opportunities for UK services in Indian markets, especially in areas like telecommunications, legal services, and financial services.

Bilateral trade between India and the UK saw an increase, rising to $20.36 billion in 2022-23 from $17.5 billion in 2021-22.

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