Free Trade Agreement Between India And UK Is A High Priority, Next Round Talks In December: Piyush Goyal

Free Trade Agreement Between India And UK Is A High Priority, Next Round Talks In December: Piyush Goyal

Union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK is a high priority for both countries and the next round of negotiations for the pact is slated to happen in December, reported by the PTI.

Speaking at a steel industry event, Goyal said, “With UK we are doing a comprehensive deal like the UAE. I assure you that it is a high priority of both countries. It has been reiterated in the meeting of the G20.”

He said, “We are all very well aware that it was progressing very fast until we had a little bit of a blip because of political happenings in the other country. Fortunately, we have a stable government. I believe in office now (in the UK) and I am already in touch with my (UK) counterpart. We are working together to possibly have an in-person meeting also very soon but our teams are already engaged. Next month, the next round of negotiations are slated to happen.”

The statement comes as India’s other major trade partner Australia ratified the bilateral free trade agreement with the country on Tuesday. 

Negotiations for an FTA with Britain were launched in January this year with an aim to conclude it by Diwali (October 24), but the deadline was missed. Goyal said that there should not be any strict timelines to conclude negotiations for an FTA as such agreements have to be thought through and carefully calibrated and negotiated. He added that industry support is required for the agreement and it should be a fair, equitable, and balanced FTA.

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The bilateral trade between the India and UK increased to $17.5 billion in 2021-22 compared to $13.2 billion in 2020-21. India exported goods and services worth $10.5 billion in 2021-22, while imported $7 billion. The UK is one of the largest markets in Europe for Indian IT services.

The FTA has 26 chapters which include goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights. Under the pact, India is seeking custom duty reduction or elimination to help boost exports in In labour-intensive sectors like textiles, leather, and gems and jewellery, while the UK is looking for duty concessions in areas like Scotch whiskey and automobiles.

India mainly exports ready-made garments and textiles, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, petroleum and petrochemical products, transport equipment and parts, spices, metal products, machinery and instruments, pharma, and marine items to UK, while importing precious and semi-precious stones, ores and metal scraps, engineering goods, professional instruments, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, and machinery. 

Till July, five rounds of talks have been completed between the officials of the two countries.