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India, UK kick off talks on trade pact

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Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and UK Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan today in New Delhi

India and the UK have formally launched negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement (FTA), which is expected to double bilateral trade by 2030. The announcement was made by Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and UK Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan today in New Delhi. The two countries expect negotiations to conclude by December this year.

The first round of negotiations will begin on 17 January and future rounds of talks will take place approximately every five weeks.

A joint statement said that the India-UK bilateral trading relationship is already significant, and both sides have agreed to double that bilateral trade by 2030, as part of Roadmap 2030 announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 2021.

“India and the UK will seek to agree a mutually beneficial agreement supporting jobs, businesses and communities in both countries,” it added.

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According to the UK’s Department of International Trade, India-UK bilateral trade in 2019 stood at £23.3 billion.

“We are launching formal negotiations for the free trade agreement for which both teams will be proactively and regularly engaging with each other, deliberating on different aspects of our relationship and fast-tracking the interim agreement or an early harvest agreement, where we hope to capture the low hanging fruits, which will provide opportunities for businesses on both sides and help us substantially, enhancing the volume of trade in goods and services,” Goyal told media persons after the meeting.

After pulling out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), New Delhi is keen to expedite bilateral trade deals with several countries. Besides, UK, India is also looking to ink free trade agreements with the UAE, Australia and Bangladesh among others.