India, UK launch free trade negotiations

India and the United Kingdom on Wednesday launched free trade negations aimed at finalising a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries and thereby facilitating a doubling of bilateral trade by the year 2030. The goal was set by the prime ministers of both the nations, Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson, in May 2021.

Minister of commerce and industry, consumer affairs, food and public distribution and textiles Piyush Goyal along with UK secretary of state for international trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan launched the FTA negotiations in New Delhi on Wednesday.  
Speaking on the occasion, Piyush Goyal said an FTA with UK is expected to provide certainty, predictability and transparency and create a more liberal, facilitative and competitive services regime.
He said the FTA negotiations with the UK is expected to increase India’s exports in leather, textile, jewellery and processed agri products. India is also expected to see a quantum jump in the export of marine products through the recognition of 56 marine units of India, he added.
The minister said that the Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on pharma could provide additional market access. There is also great potential for increasing exports in service sectors like IT/ITES, nursing, education, healthcare (including AYUSH) and audio-visual services. India would also be seeking special arrangements for movement of its people, he added.
The minister assured that subsequent to the unveiling of the FTA, the two nations would proactively and regularly engage with each other, for deliberating on the scope and coverage of the trade deal. Observing that UK was a major trade partner of India with substantial bilateral volume of trade in goods and services, Goyal said that the cooperation extended across areas like tourism, tech, startups, education, climate change, etc and that the two nations were looking forward to a mutually beneficial trade deal with balanced concessions and market access package in a wide range of sectors.
Calling for the enhancement of sectoral cooperation by addressing market access issues and removing trade restrictions, Goyal said that it would help generate direct and indirect employment in both nations.
The minister said that the India-UK FTA will also contribute in integrating value chains and help augment our mutual efforts to strengthen the resilience of supply chains. Reminding that the leaders of both nations had envisioned launching the FTA Negotiations in early 2022, Goyal expressed happiness at the successful conclusion of discussions in a timely manner to announce the launch of the FTA negotiations.
The minister said the two countries have also agreed to explore the possibility of an Interim Agreement to provide quick gains for benefitting businesses in both nations in the interim. “Our endeavour is to deliver a comprehensive, balanced, fair and equitable FTA, to benefit our small, medium and micro-enterprises in both nations,” he said.